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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 323

CONTENTS

Monday, June 3, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 323
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, June 3, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


(1100)

[Translation]

Vacancy

Cloverdale—Langley City 

     It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely John Aldag, member for the electoral district of Cloverdale—Langley City, by resignation effective May 31.

[English]

    Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, the Speaker has addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness Act

    The House resumed from March 19 consideration of Bill C‑293, An Act respecting pandemic prevention and preparedness, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of Motion No. 1.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C‑293.
    As members know, this bill is divided into three main parts.
     First, the bill “enacts the Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness Act to require the Minister of Health to establish an advisory committee to review the response to the COVID‑19 pandemic in Canada in order to reduce the risks associated with future pandemics and inform a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan.”
    The bill “also requires the Minister of Health to establish, in consultation with other ministers, a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan, which is to include information provided by those ministers.”
    Finally, “it amends the Department of Health Act to provide that the Minister of Health must appoint a national pandemic prevention and preparedness coordinator from among the officials of the Public Health Agency of Canada to coordinate the activities under the Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness Act.”
     Basically, the first part concerns the creation of a committee to review the response to COVID-19. While the intention is laudable, we in the Bloc Québécois feel that an independent public inquiry would be a better way to judge the government's actions. The second part concerns the development of a pandemic prevention plan, and the third concerns the appointment of a federal coordinator.
     The Bloc's criticism of these two elements is the same. We want to ensure that Ottawa does not overstep its jurisdiction. We believe that the federal plan should focus on its prerogatives. As a reminder, Ottawa not only failed in its responsibilities regarding these questions, but scuttled two important preparedness measures: the national emergency stockpile and pandemic detection.
     Also, Canada has a guide entitled “Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector”, which was published in 2004 and updated as the various pandemics arose. This plan had been approved by the federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers. Furthermore, the government inherited a number of plans, reports and recommendations from its departments and the Public Health Agency during previous pandemics, such as the response from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada to the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.
     In this context, we have to wonder what the point is of the plan proposed by this bill. We believe that conducting the public inquiry should be the priority. I would remind the House that the Bloc Québécois voted against Bill C‑293 at second reading. It will also vote no at third reading.
     An amendment negotiated among the parties sought to amend the bill to compel the holding of a public inquiry into the pandemic. The Liberal members voted against because they do not want to be held accountable on this subject, and the Conservatives, who had called for a public inquiry, abstained, which was so hypocritical of them. As a result of all that, we will not be having a public inquiry, much to the dismay of the Bloc Québécois.
     Why does the Bloc Québécois want a public inquiry? First, the COVID‑19 pandemic caused 6.5 million deaths around the world, including 45,000 in Canada. There were over 15,000 deaths in Quebec, of which 40% occurred in long-term care facilities.
     The families forced to grieve in appalling circumstances must not be forgotten. In my riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, fear of this pandemic led to roads being closed and managed for emergencies. Indigenous communities took proactive steps by self-isolating, which caused other problems after the pandemic.
    The Bloc Québécois believes that such an inquiry is overdue. Many pandemic-related failings have been noted, including in terms of quarantine, border management, national emergency stockpiles and the global public health information network. This more than justifies an inquiry.
    Furthermore, certain measures curtailing freedoms, such as mandatory vaccine passports for all federally regulated transportation systems, vaccine mandates for federal employees and denial of access to EI deserve sober, non-partisan scrutiny. It is important to re-establish social dialogue now that the health emergency is behind us.
    Finally, from the beginning of the pandemic, the government took action to improve the situation, for example signing agreements with pharmaceutical companies to improve Canada's vaccine production capacity. Therefore, it seems appropriate to do an overview to assess how effective those actions were. These are all good reasons to call for a public inquiry.

(1105)

     Also, certain elements of the bill are problematic for the Bloc Québécois and lead us to vote against it. For example, regarding the scope of the comprehensive review of the COVID-19 response, the bill proposes that Ottawa collaborate with provincial and municipal governments to assess the public health and pandemic response capabilities of those governments.
     We in the Bloc Québécois believe that the inquiry should focus on the responsibilities and actions that come under federal jurisdiction. We also think that it us up to Quebec and the provinces to conduct their own assessment. Ottawa interferes enough in areas of provincial jurisdiction as it is. We will not give them an additional opportunity to meddle.
     The Liberals are responsible for Canada's lack of preparedness for COVID‑19. While the current government likes to fashion itself the champion of the fight against COVID‑19, let us not forget that the lack of preparation was entirely their fault. They had axed the main pandemic protection measures in the years leading up to the COVID‑19 crisis.
     The Global Public Health Intelligence Network, or GPHIN, is an online early warning system that monitors global news sources in nine languages for potential public health risks happening anywhere in the world. It was under the Liberals that GPHIN's mandate was amended in 2018. The Liberals wanted to exert control by imposing top-down approval to authorize alerts and thus control messaging. The alerts ended in May 2019, nearly 400 days before the start of COVID‑19. Bravo.
     What is more, the Liberals neglected the national emergency strategic stockpile once they came to power in 2015. Their lax approach made it necessary to destroy thousands of personal protective equipment such as N95 masks. Worse still, not only did Ottawa destroy the emergency stockpile, but it failed to replace it. Consequently, the federal government was caught completely off guard when the pandemic was declared.
     In addition, border management during the pandemic was an abject failure on the part of the current government. Its inaction was such that the City of Montreal had to dispatch its own personnel to Montreal Airport to enforce quarantines while the Liberal government, rather than protecting people, wondered whether the concept of borders was acceptable in a post-national state.
    Then there is ArriveCAN and its many issues, not to mention the exorbitant cost. People were sent to quarantine in error, when they did not need to isolate. People who did not have smart phones or data did not have the same access, and there were all kinds of bugs that prevented access to the app. In short, ArriveCAN alone is worth looking into.
    The management of temporary foreign workers during the pandemic was another disaster. Inspections were rushed and the immigration and refugee protection regulations were breached several times. Even after numerous warnings from the Auditor General, the situation did not improve and the department did not honour its commitments. In fact, the longer the pandemic went on, the worse the situation got. After being slow to shoulder its responsibilities, the government continued to refuse to present a plan to lift the health measures, which exacerbated the already severe difficulties being faced by the tourism sector.
    The COVID‑19 pandemic also revealed Canada's dependence on vaccine production. From the beginning to the end of the pandemic, the government did some things right, but it made a lot of mistakes. We need to examine what failed, and a public inquiry is the only reliable tool we have. Unfortunately, this bill misses a good opportunity by omitting that option. We could get hit by another pandemic tomorrow morning. A public inquiry would help prepare us for this eventuality and prevent a lot of deaths. It could also spare us the isolation forced on a large swath of the population. Entire communities were isolated, as we were in Nunavik. Nunavik's 14 communities were cut off from the world for weeks, and must never be forced to endure something like that again.

(1110)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we should be contemplating and debating this as it is of the utmost importance. Bill C-293, an act respecting pandemic prevention and preparedness, has two components to it, but we need to harken back to the impacts of the COVID pandemic.
    Members will recall that, on March 13, 2020, the House, by unanimous consent, took the dramatic and unparalleled step of suspending its work, as the pandemic raged across our planet. I recall stepping up with the other House leaders and taking that unprecedented step with respect to parliamentary innovations and the changes that took place. For a number of months, we had to operate by unanimous consent. It was an exceptional time in our democracy, which ultimately led to the creation of a virtual hybrid Parliament. Members now, regardless of what emergencies they are experiencing in their ridings or families, can still fully participate across the length and breadth of the world's largest democracy, of our nation.
    The impacts were felt, of course, right across the country. Indigenous communities suffered horribly through the course of the pandemic. We saw, particularly in long-term care homes, an appalling loss of life. We saw the images of some of those long-term care homes where the staff had become sick or were simply not present, where people passed away, or were not cared for or were unable to get basic medication or food. It was a terrible tragedy beyond the loss of life. We need to ensure that everything is put into place so that the next time a pandemic hits we are prepared right across the length and breadth of our country.
    There are two components to this bill. One is the pandemic prevention and preparedness plan, which obliges the Minister of Health to establish a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan. We know from the impacts on long-term care homes, schools and indigenous communities that we must have this in place. However, there is nothing that prevents the Minister of Health from doing that already. Certainly, we support that idea.
    However, to properly prepare for the next pandemic, and with the climate change, sadly, it is likely it will occur again, we need to ensure that we have done a very full and comprehensive review of the response that took place in the last pandemic. That takes a public inquiry. The NDP has been very clear about this. The idea that the minister would put together an advisory committee, which is what is foreseen in the bill, is simply not adequate to the size and scope of what needs to happen.
    My colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, who was the previous health critic, has been steadfast in raising in the House the importance of having a public inquiry, as have other parties. I know our colleagues in the Bloc Québécois have also called for a public inquiry into the COVID response. That is what is required. The resources need to be put in place. That is why my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, tabled the amendment that would take out the idea that we would have some sort of advisory committee doing that COVID response. That is not adequate, it is not appropriate and it is not at all what we favour.
    We have the amendment now before the House of Commons. We will be voting on that before we vote on the bill itself. Unless the provision that an advisory committee will be offering suggestions on the COVID response, rather than having a full public inquiry, which is what the member for Burnaby South, the member for Vancouver Kingsway and all members of the NDP caucus have been calling for, is stripped out, we will not be supporting this bill. We believe profoundly that a public inquiry is warranted and needed.

(1115)

     We do not object to the Minister of Health preparing a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan. That absolutely needs to be put into place. However, it needs to come as we are fully investigating all aspects of what transpired during the pandemic.
     We need to fully engage with the long-term care sector to know what led to such a terrible loss of life and, quite frankly, a meltdown in many of our long-term care facilities. Imagine seniors, who have given their lives to our country and to their community, not having any care aids around to help them with basic needs, of food and toiletry needs, and then so many of those who passed away in those long-term care homes not even having their bodies cared for after death.
    This is an appalling result of a lack of preparation. It is an acknowledgement that the long-term care sector needs to be fully changed. The NDP has been calling for a long-term care act that obliges standards in every part of our country so that seniors are treated with the dignity and respect they should have. We are going to continue to push for that.
     We believe in long-term care funding that is adequate across the country. We believe in taking profit out of the long-term care sector. Many of these private institutions, where the conditions were absolutely deplorable, were also multinational corporations that had huge profits in the same year. There is something profoundly wrong with that.
     Since the days of Tommy Douglas, the NDP has called for a health care system that is a public health care system and is adequately funded. That is why we pushed for dental care and pharmacare. Later today, we will be considering the pharmacare bill in its final reading before the House of Commons. It is something we celebrate, but long-term care has to be front and centre as well. The idea that a corporation would profit at the same time as we see misery in the long-term care sector needs to be fully investigated in a public inquiry.
     Indigenous communities received none of the supports that other parts of the country received. That needs to be fully investigated. Only a public inquiry would get to the bottom of why indigenous communities were so cruelly neglected during the height of the pandemic, and why communities that called out for supports did not receive those supports. Only a public inquiry could fully investigate that.
     We believe profoundly that we need to prepare, sadly, for the next pandemic. The climate crisis sends a very clear message that in the coming years we will be tested again. We need to ensure that everything is in place. The NDP has been using its weight in this minority parliament to push for that so the conditions are in place. Despite the fact that two recognized parties in this place have been pushing to put in place that public inquiry, sadly we have not yet forced the government to do that. That absolutely has to happen.

(1120)

[Translation]

    The amendment we are proposing will eliminate this notion of an advisory committee reviewing all the repercussions of the pandemic. We think it is extremely important that a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan be developed. There is nothing stopping the Minister of Health from developing one now.
    Most importantly, however, we need a public inquiry into all the issues related to the pandemic, including the impact on indigenous communities and long-term care facilities. All of these aspects need to be fully examined. The only way to do that is through a public inquiry. That is why we are proposing an amendment that will eliminate this negative aspect of the bill. If our amendment is adopted, we will vote in favour of the bill. If the amendment is not adopted, we will be voting against the bill.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today with respect to a private member's bill tabled by the member for Beaches—East York, who, in addition to being a very good member of Parliament, is an excellent podcast producer as well. On a serious note, the member has put forward a number of bills in the time we have served together. They have been incredibly thoughtful, ranging from animal welfare when we were first elected back in 2015, which I thought was an excellent bill at the time though many others disagreed, to now a pandemic response bill.
     Before my speech, I looked up information on the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is continuing. I know many of us like to think that COVID is over and we have gone back to life as normal. For many of us, we have. However, even last week, 12 Canadians died from COVID-19. In total, 59,382 Canadians died from it. That is more than the number who died in the Second World War. I know that there will be many commemorations of D-Day this week, and rightfully so, and we are still commemorating and remembering it 80 years later.
     It is important that the member for Beaches—East York has brought this bill forward, because we do not want to forget what has happened in the last few years, including the lessons that were learned, how provinces, territories, municipalities and society at large were caught flat-footed. We need to do better as a society.
     The member for New Westminster—Burnaby raised an excellent point in his speech about the environmental impact of the pandemic response. I believe the statistic is that 75% of diseases are animal-borne. As we are deforesting, as we are as a society globally moving closer and closer into wilderness, we are going to see that interaction. As the climate is changing, we are going to see the behaviour of animals, including mosquitoes and disease-carrying animals, change. Diseases that Canada may not expect because of our cold-weather climate may be something that we continue to experience, or will experience, in the future. We need to have a prepared pandemic response.
     It would be nice to think that this is a once-in-a-hundred-years type of scenario. The Spanish flu post-World War I really tested Canada back in the 20th century. COVID-19, 100 years later, did the same thing. It would be naive to say that it is not something we have to worry about for another 100 years.
     That is why I like what the member outlined with respect to establishing an expert review of Canada's COVID-19 response. We need to look back at what happened. I know that everyone, including provinces, municipalities, corporations and the federal government, did the best they could at the time under the circumstances. The word that was overused was “unprecedented”, but it truly was. We can take the lessons that we have learned about what can happen and apply them to what may happen in the future to ensure we have the proper supplies and vaccinations on hand.
     I remember a time when there was unanimity among the parties in the House about the benefits of vaccination. Unfortunately, that unanimity seemingly disappeared. However, I think most of the parties in the House still support that as a core public health message, but we need to ensure that continues, as political opportunists across the country push aside public health and public health expertise when there is a threat to Canadians.

(1125)

    Public health and public health officials have spent their careers trying to protect. Maybe we do not like to hear that we should eat better, should run more, should get all of our shots and should do all the things we know we should do, like drink less. We may say that we will just leave it and that we will be fine, but embedded in that is a desire by public health officials to see us live longer.
    COVID-19 has seen and shown, for the first time, declining life expectancies. The life expectancy in Canada is now slightly lower than it was before the pandemic, and this is something we need to address. All governments and all political parties should want to see this as a goal. I think there is an understanding, and I think there is an agreement that we should have as much as we can in place. Bill C-293 would require us to develop and update a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan and to table that plan at regular intervals. That is fundamental.
    We have seen the impact of a pandemic. I would like to think that maybe one will not happen ever again, and I hope for my kids that we do not see one in our lifetimes, but the possibility and the probability exist. We should have that plan to ensure that we have proper equipment in storage and that we have plans in place for that “What if there is a next pandemic?”, because it is not unreasonable to see. Before 2020, we thought it was just something that we saw in movies to concern us about this type of threat to the country, but a pandemic is a direct threat to Canadians.
    As I said, nearly 60,000 Canadians have died because of COVID-19, and I am happy to compare our response to other countries' responses, but even within Canada, many provinces did a much better job than other provinces. I recall the army having to go into privately run nursing homes in Ontario, an army that is not trained for that type of task, because, clearly, no one was ready for this type of pandemic; the result was that many seniors died.
    This is an important bill to come forward. The third major point that Bill C-293 would require is to appoint a national pandemic prevention and preparedness coordinator to oversee and to implement the plan. We get a lot of plans tabled in the House, and I know that is a surprise to many people here, but it is excellent that there would then be someone in charge to implement it, someone who is keeping an eye on things and ensuring, through a public health lens, that we are ready for the next one, God forbid.
    Again, we need to be prepared. We need to be ready. I want to commend the hon. member for his work on this and for his work on many other files, but it is important that Canada stays ready. We can compare our response to other countries' responses in a very favourable way in deaths that were prevented, but that number is still almost 60,000, and we need to ensure that should a pandemic hit again, we protect as many Canadians as possible.

(1130)

     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues in the House for this vigorous discussion around Bill C-293.
     It is an honour to rise on behalf of the good people of Tobique—Mactaquac and the broader concerned citizens across the country today in regards to Bill C-293 and the debate on it.
    Although some of the attempts of the bill may be laudable in regards to creating a framework for pandemic prevention and preparedness, there is a big, unfortunate aspect to the bill that would have huge ramifications and potentially even bigger implications with respect to the One Health approach that is being lauded in the bill.
     First, I think it is broadly overreaching and going across various jurisdictional lines without giving adequate consideration for the legitimate concerns being raised by provinces, by stakeholders, by those in the agricultural sector and by privacy rights advocates. They all have concerns pertaining to the bill, Bill C-293, and where it could potentially lead. There is a lot of angst, which all of us have experienced at home, in our ridings and among the people we represent across the country. When we talk about COVID, it is almost like there is an element of PTSD that comes with that. People still can become very emotional when they are discussing COVID and the various responses to it.
    It was stated by the previous speaker in the House that it was truly an unprecedented time, and it was. Many of us had never experienced anything like that in our lifetimes, and there were tremendous response efforts made across the country and internationally to address the concerns, to tackle the pandemic that was approaching and, then, as it set in. Various jurisdictions took different measures in ways they felt were best for their people. Coming out of that, I think all of us would have to admit that there were things done right and that there were things done wrong. There were outcomes we did not foresee. There were things done that created some really adverse effects amongst Canadians and amongst families even.
    I remember being particularly moved throughout that time as I saw people from various sides of the equation approach me, call my office and reach out with heartfelt letters of expressions on various sides of the issue. They would raise concerns from, I believe, the best of intentions, but the one overarching concern that kept coming through was that they felt that their voices were being ignored and that they were being steamrolled in a process. If they had questions or if there were things they were uncertain about, sometimes they felt as though they were marginalized or labelled because they viewed things differently.
    As has been called for by some parties in the House, including ours, we want a full review of the response. We want to look at what we got right and what we got wrong, and we, as Canadians, can be better prepared for a future pandemic, which, hopefully, we do not have to face again in our lifetimes. How can we best position Canada to go forward in response to that? We have called for those reviews, but those reviews have not been undertaken, as of yet. We have not seen an in-depth analysis done that we could examine whether Canada could have done better, whether we could have done things differently, and how we could make sure that we could be ready to tackle this comprehensively, if and when it happens again.
    Obviously, there are huge concerns that would arise out of the bill, Bill C-293, being implemented, which would come from our provincial stakeholders, because this crosses into areas of provincial jurisdiction. As we know, different provinces handled the pandemic differently, based on their areas of jurisdiction. We must not undermine areas of provincial authority in response to this. We must work collaboratively on that.
    I think that there is one big lesson that came out of our response here in Canada to what we just went through with COVID-19, which is that there has to be greater connectivity between the various levels of government as it relates to responding to it. We must listen to the concerns coming up from the regions so that it would be less us against them, less one against another, less one approach versus another, less one ideology versus another, and it would become more about how we could tackle this collaboratively and could welcome all voices to be heard so that there would be a transparent approach to the issue. If people felt that they had legitimate concerns, then they would not be marginalized, left out or trampled over, but they would be able to raise those questions and could have serious debate and discussion.

(1135)

    Obviously, we are hearing concerns from people as it relates to this, but this is even getting into a place where it crosses over international issues of jurisdiction. We must be very vigilant about protecting our sovereignty when it comes to our approach on this because we have some of the best of the best scientists in the world right here in Canada. Let us make sure that those voices are heard, that we come up with a Canadian response and that we prepare ourselves so that we have the necessary food security and the necessary supplies in place to protect our citizens when that time comes.
     I would be curious to know what steps the current government is taking to make sure that we are ready, that we have the supplies needed and that we can handle it be less reliant on international circumstances or on other countries, which are obviously going to prioritize their own populations. Let us make sure that we, as a Canadian government, are doing everything we can do to prioritize Canada's approach and to have in place all that we need to deal with the circumstance, if and when it arises.
    There are major concerns coming out of this bill, Bill C-293, as it has been proposed. It has not only concerns of jurisdictional overreach, but also concerns as it relates to the effects it may have on agriculture and on production of agricultural food. One thing we heard, repeatedly, was about our need to strengthen our own food security within Canada. Obviously, there is also a need to strengthen our energy security within Canada. That will be for another debate. We need to make sure that we have adequate supply chains and readiness available, as they relate to food, energy and health supplies, if and when another pandemic arises.
     Let us make sure that we have a made-in-Canada approach to this. That does not mean that we should not work in collaboration with other nations whenever possible and should not do what we can to help others where needed, as well as not be the recipient of help when we need it, but let us make sure we never surrender our sovereignty over the rights to our approach to any kind of a health crisis in this country and make sure that we are best prepared now by learning the difficult lessons to be learned coming out of COVID. I remember getting the phone calls. I remember hearing the stories, as all members do, I am sure.
    There are some very important lessons we needed to learn, with one being this: We, as elected officials, must prioritize the concerns of Canadians and must make sure that, even if we personally may agree or disagree, every Canadian feels that their voices are respected and are heard by their elected officials. We must take a responsive approach, not an arrogant approach, not a top-down heavy approach, but a bottom-up, grassroots approach where we let Canadians know that we have heard their concerns and that we get why they were upset. We understand that we are learning more things now about it, as well as about our response, that what was once considered settled has not been settled and that what was once considered to be an absolute certainty, as we found out, was not quite what we thought. In fact, sometimes it was the exact opposite.
    With what we have learned, we are willing to adjust our approach so that if at any time a crisis hits this nation, rather than dividing our people, we would strive with everything in us to unite our people. That starts by respecting individuals with different approaches, with different philosophies and with different ways of looking at things. Maybe they see things differently, and perhaps if we listen, we could adjust, learn and develop a more comprehensive, holistic, made-in-Canada approach to solutions.
     I appreciate being given the time and the opportunity to address the House on this issue.

(1140)

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this bill that was introduced by a Liberal member.
    It must be said that there has been a lot of water under the bridge since the bill was introduced in 2022, when it was clear that we needed to correct past mistakes and take the time to look at what had been done, what was done well and what was done poorly.
    The Bloc Québécois's position was clear from the start. We called for a public, independent inquiry into the COVID‑19 pandemic in order to learn from our mistakes. Our position has not changed. That is why we have been opposed to this bill right from the start. I will reiterate why.
    First, the bill seeks to create the pandemic prevention and preparedness act, which is essentially made up of three parts.
    First, the bill establishes an advisory committee to review the response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, which is obviously very commendable. However, here again, we believe that an independent public inquiry would be a much better way of looking into this. What is more, an amendment was introduced that was negotiated among the parties. However, in the end, the government members and the members of the Conservative Party voted against the motion. That shows a lack of transparency on the part of the government and a certain amount of hypocrisy on the part of the Conservative Party, since the Conservatives had also been calling for an independent public inquiry.
    The second part of this bill has to do with establishing a prevention plan. The third has to do with the appointment of a federal coordinator.
    We have similar concerns regarding both of those parts. We are worried that the federal government will overstep its jurisdictions. As is the case with most private members' bills that are introduced here, we must ensure that the federal government focuses on its own prerogatives.
     Obviously, the federal government had a very large role to play in the pandemic, but there were also roles that Quebec and the provinces had to play as well, because health comes under their jurisdiction.
     There are also things that already exist, tools and guides available to the federal government, such as the document entitled “Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector”. This guide was published in 2004 and is supposed to be updated as various pandemics arise. It was approved by the federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers. This seems to be an important existing tool. There are reams of reports, plans and recommendations by the various federal departments that can equip the government to respond to this type of situation.
     In the circumstances, however, I would reiterate that the best thing as far as we are concerned—and as far as much of the population was concerned when they called for this near the end of the pandemic when we were starting to get back on our feet—would be to hold an independent public inquiry.
     Why? It is very simple. As certain members have recalled here this morning, it was pretty devastating. It is perhaps the first major event in modern times that we can recall. The pandemic left over 6.5 million dead around the world, including more than 45,000 in Canada. There were numerous failures on the part of the federal government, particularly in terms of quarantines, border management, the national emergency strategic stockpile and the Global Public Health Information Network. Certain other measures could also be called into question, such as vaccine passports for the entire federally regulated transportation system, vaccine mandates for federal employees and the denial of access to EI.
     These questions are a bit more delicate. One can be for or against, but I think they should be examined in a non-partisan manner, hence the value of an independent inquiry.
     Lastly, throughout the pandemic, agreements were signed with pharmaceutical companies to enhance Canada's vaccine production capacity. This also should be reviewed. We should know how this was done and which contracts were awarded to which companies so that we will be better prepared in the future.

(1145)

     According to the Constitution Act,1867, matters of quarantine are under federal jurisdiction. The federal government is responsible for quarantine issues. Everything else health related is under provincial jurisdiction, except, for example, health care for Indigenous Canadians, military hospitals and the approval of medications. In the case of COVID-19, the federal government was responsible for the quarantine system, and it failed dismally. I will get back to this later.
     I mentioned the Global Public Health Intelligence Network. Most of us are familiar with it now. That may not have been the case prior to the pandemic. The network is an online early warning system that monitors media sources worldwide in nine languages in order to identify potential public health threats around the world. It identifies chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats to public health. In 2018, under the Liberals, the mandate of the global intelligence network was modified. In July 2020, thanks to an article in the Globe and Mail, we learned that the alerts had been stopped around 400 days before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was therefore this government that decided to stop the alerts that could have helped us prepare, but unfortunately did not.
     The same applies to Canada's national emergency strategic stockpile, created in the 1950s during the Cold War. Its purpose is to store pharmaceutical products, supplies used by social services and during pandemics, medical equipment and supplies and so on. Since the Liberals came to power in 2015, they have neglected our emergency stockpile. Some personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, were not only destroyed, but also not replaced. That had a considerable impact when the pandemic hit. They could have been more proactive. There is therefore a certain responsibility that lies with the federal government, a certain failure to take the necessary measures.
     The same applies, as well, to border management and quarantine measures. As I said earlier, there was a point during the pandemic when the City of Montreal itself had to send staff members to the Montreal airport to ensure quarantine rules were being respected. During this time, the government was waiting and pondering the concept of borders, wondering whether that was acceptable in a postnational state, rather than protecting Canadians. The people and government of Quebec said that borders needed to be closed to non-essential travel, since that would have an impact on our constituents' health and safety. The federal government took its time.
    The Auditor General produced a few reports with recommendations and harshly criticized the federal government for the way it handled quarantines. In her 2021 report, she said that the federal government was unable to tell whether 37% of people had complied with their quarantine orders or not. Fully 30% of test results were missing at the border. The federal government had no automated system to track whether people who had to quarantine in a hotel had done so or not. Priority follow-up was not provided for 59% of people who needed it, despite the referrals of such travellers to law enforcement. In addition, 14% of people who tested positive for COVID‑19 were not contacted by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The government really messed up in that respect.
    There were clearly official languages concerns. Virtually every time a notification was sent out, it was in English, not French. People found it difficult to access services in French. The same thing happened with ArriveCAN. We have talked about it ad nauseam. It is clearly worth studying the whole issue of the use and creation of ArriveCAN, much like the issue of temporary workers and vaccine production capacity. In short, all this needs to be reviewed in an independent public inquiry. That is what we have been calling for all along.
    Of course, this is unlikely to be the last time we will be faced with a pandemic, unfortunately. I think it is fair to say that it is likely to happen again in the next few years. The world and its ecosystem are changing, and I think the federal government has a duty to protect the safety of Canadians and our health. That is where the need for an independent public inquiry comes in.

(1150)

[English]

     Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Speaker: The question is on Motion No. 1.
    If a member participating in person wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division, or if a member of a recognized party participating in person wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, I ask that Motion No. 1 be carried on division.
     Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion No. 1 agreed to)

     moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.
    If a member participating in person wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division, or if a member of a recognized party participating in person wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the motion be carried on division.
    Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

     moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the support to get the bill through report stage. I am confident we will be sending the bill to the Senate. It is very important that we do so and that the bill becomes law. We have lived through a pandemic that no one wants to live through again, and it is important we put measures in place here today, as parliamentarians, to ensure accountability not just in the current Parliament but also in future Parliaments.
    What do I mean by accountability? I mean that all future governments would have to table a plan in the House to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for the next pandemic and that they take efforts to reduce risks to prevent the next pandemic. We can remember SARS. What happened after SARS? There were reports, studies and recommendations, and some of the recommendations were even adopted, but not all of them. Politicians forgot. Politicians were not studying the reports or calling for renewed action in the wake of the reports, and it fell away.
    Were we as prepared as we should have been for the pandemic? Were provinces as prepared as they should have been? Was the federal government as prepared as it should have been? Absolutely not. No one wants to relive what we lived through, but let us remember what we went through, because if we do not remember, we are destined to live through something very similar.
    If we remember, we will remember the army having to go into nursing homes. We will remember the fear of the unknown that we all experienced. We will remember the great scale of loss. The pandemic required a wartime effort across levels of government and across parties to do what we needed to do to save lives. The pandemic upended so many lives. There were not just lives lost; it also upended employment. It upended relationships. It made it so hard for so many.
    Before I get into the second piece, I want to speak to what the bill would do. Some people have said we could have a plan already, that the bill would be overreaching and get into provincial jurisdiction. What would the plan do? It would do one thing, very simply. It would require the government to table, in Parliament, a pandemic prevention and preparedness plan to ensure that the government and the health minister take a whole-of-government approach and work with ministers across government to turn their minds to how they would take steps to reduce pandemic risk and prepare the current government and future governments for the next pandemic.
    I was not going to get into the missteps along the way. I can criticize the way the wage subsidy rolled out. I can criticize different public health measures. I was furious, as the father of kids who are now seven and four years old, when Ontario closed its schools for the final time in a January during the pandemic. However, we should consider the alternative. I know not everyone loves the Prime Minister today, but the Prime Minister stood outside his home on a daily basis and acted like a prime minister. He delivered benefits, putting politics aside, and worked with opposition parties and other levels of government to support businesses and individuals in a time of crisis.
    Let us consider the counterfactual, such as if the Leader of the Opposition were the prime minister during a crisis like the one we just had. When faced with questions about the special budgetary measures that were being put in place, everyone else was putting politics aside, but not the leader of the official opposition, the member for Carleton. He said we did not need big, fat government programs. He said we needed to lower taxes and eliminate regulatory red tape. It is as if we pull a string and the doll says the same thing again and again, even in a crisis.
    Every other party at every other level of government was willing to work across party lines to save lives and support individuals and businesses through the crisis. Let us imagine if the Leader of the Opposition had been the prime minister at the time and had said, yes, people who own small businesses are having their lives upended and yes, they are losing employment because they cannot go into work because of the pandemic and crisis, but that we are going to lower taxes and cut red tape. Does anyone in the House think that is a serious answer? Absolutely not.
    The Prime Minister was acting like a prime minister. Let us forget about supporting the special measures; we know the counterfactual, that a Conservative prime minister would not have supported special measures. What about public health measures? Conservatives at the time were saying two things. They were saying that vaccines were not going to rollout fast enough; they did. Conservatives then undermined public confidence in immunization. Of course, there is a credible debate to be had about certain public health measures, and we can have that credible debate.

(1155)

     We could have had a credible debate at the time, but there should not have been an instance where the local health officers of the regions of the member for Sarnia—Lambton, the member for Haldimand—Norfolk or the member for Niagara West, whether it was the head of Norfolk County's EMS or the public health officer in Sarnia—Lambton, had to issue public statements correcting the record to say that we should defend public health efforts and that people should ignore the comments from one's elected officials and not listen to them. Yes, we can have a credible debate, but we cannot afford to undermine public confidence in immunization.
    What happens if we do? We see what is happening. In Ontario, there has just been the first death in years from measles. Why did it happen? It is because vaccination rates have plummeted. That is a direct consequence of the willingness to undermine public health efforts and undermine immunization. Again, debate is warranted and individuals can protest as they like. I, as some people in the House may know, criticized the invocation of the Emergencies Act. What I did not do, though, was bring donuts and coffee and celebrate lawlessness. That is not the conduct we should expect from a prime minister. That is not something we should expect from someone who should be acting as a statesman in a crisis. It is actually the opposite of what we should expect from our leaders.
    Just imagine if the leader of the official opposition had been the prime minister. I do not say Erin O'Toole, as I think he would have managed through the crisis just fine. He is a serious person. The individual who occupies the current chair of leader of the official opposition is unserious and would have managed us through the crisis in the most unserious way.
    I want to close with this, because I have heard some members ask about agriculture. One should know what is in the bill, which says that we have got to make efforts to address antimicrobial resistance. We should. Farmers are doing that. Agriculture is doing that. The bill says that we should regulate activities to address pandemic risk.
    Conservatives trip over themselves to talk about biosecurity if it means ending whistleblowing on farms, but they do not want to talk about biosecurity when it means reducing pandemic risk, because that is all it is. In fact, farming operations already take pandemic risk incredibly seriously here in Canada, but not all around the world. We see pandemics driven by spillover risks associated with animals. What is a “one health” approach? All it does is recognize and address the fact that animal health, human health and environmental health are interconnected.
    I am going to quote the member from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. I could not believe it. With respect to promoting alternative proteins, there is a huge pulse industry in Canada. It is a good thing to promote alternative proteins. Instead, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke says, “alternative protein is...a far-left dog whistle [for eating] crickets”. I put that to the representative from Soy Canada. He did not really know what to say at committee. Again, the Conservatives are completely unserious. If we want to make efforts to prepare for the next pandemic or to reduce the risk of the next pandemic, we need the act in place, and we should also be very wary about electing certain Conservatives.

(1200)

    It being 12:02 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired. Accordingly, the question is on the motion.
    If a member participating in person wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division, or if a member of a recognized party participating in person wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
     I request a recorded division.
     Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 5, at the expiry of time provided for Oral Questions.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Pharmacare Act

    moved that Bill C-64, An Act respecting pharmacare, be read the third time and passed.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to begin the debate at third reading stage of Bill C-64, an act respecting pharmacare. The legislation, as people know, is a priority for the government. It would establish the fundamental principles for implementing a national pharmacare program in Canada. Additionally, it would outline our plan to work with participating provinces and territories to deliver universal single-payer coverage for various contraceptives and diabetes medications.

[Translation]

    This is an important step toward a national universal pharmacare system, as well as a historic event in the evolution of health care in Canada.

[English]

    The core principles outlined in the bill are accessibility, affordability, appropriateness and universality. Accessibility ensures that Canadians can access pharmaceuticals regardless of location or income, while affordability aims to minimize financial barriers.

[Translation]

    Appropriate use prioritizes patient safety and health outcomes, while ensuring the sustainability of the health care system.

[English]

    Last, the legislation would advocate for universal coverage across Canada. These principles would shape our collaborative efforts with provinces, territories and indigenous communities to establish national universal pharmacare.
    Our government has repeatedly and consistently demonstrated our commitment to public health care. Budget 2023 announced $200 billion over 10 years to better support the health and well-being of Canadians with a strong and effective health care system. More recently, in budget 2024, we committed $1.5 billion over five years to launch the new national pharmacare plan. The plan would help provide support for Canadians seeking access to contraception and for those living with diabetes. Let me focus some of my time on contraception.

(1205)

[Translation]

    Canada has more than nine million women of child-bearing age, who account for nearly a quarter of our population. For many of them, access to safe and reliable contraception is essential.

[English]

    It would grant them the autonomy to be intentional about their family planning and pursue their aspirations for the future. This may involve advancing their education or their careers, delaying starting a family until they feel prepared or choosing not to have children at all. Affordability has been recognized as the primary obstacle in accessing birth control. This can lead to individuals' not using it consistently and may discourage them from opting for the most reliable method available.
    Consider oral contraceptives as an example. This type of birth control is priced at roughly $25 per month and carries a typical use failure rate of 9%. Compare this to IUDs, which cost up to $500 per year. Although IUDs are a higher initial investment, they provide coverage for five years and have a use failure rate as low as 0.2%. Women should be able to make the choice between different types of contraception, regardless of whether they can afford it.
    Many Canadians are just simply not in a position to pay for these upfront investments. For example, a young, part-time worker who does not have drug coverage from their employer would struggle to pay for a $500 IUD. With limited income from sporadic employment, which is typical for many young adults, even the monthly prescription cost can present a significant financial burden. This is the reality for many Canadians, and it is a reality I have heard from some of my constituents in Ottawa Centre.
    One study indicated that women and girls from lower-income families tend to use less-reliable contraceptive methods or opt out of using contraception altogether. This disparity emphasizes how socio-economic factors intersect with access to reproductive health care, identifying gaps in our health care system and perpetuating cycles of systemic inequality. Additional research has even shown us that providing contraception through public funding can actually result in public cost savings. The University of British Columbia estimates that implementing no-cost contraception has the possibility of saving the B.C. health care system around $27 million per year.
    Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Planned Parenthood Ottawa in my community of Ottawa Centre. Our conversation focused on a broad range of issues, but in particular we spoke of the impact Bill C-64 would have on the health of women here in our community. What became clear to me in that conversation was that contraception is not merely a matter of personal choice. It is an integral aspect of health care. It is a fundamental aspect of reproductive health, and it plays a pivotal role in advancing gender equality.
    It was also made clear to me that, by ensuring affordable access to contraception, this legislation would advance gender equality. Preventing unintended pregnancies would enable more Canadians to participate in the economy, which would result in greater prosperity for all. This is crucial for building a more equitable society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
     I want to thank Planned Parenthood Ottawa for the good work it does, day in and day out. I was really happy to speak to its representatives recently to let them know of a funding grant it is receiving to continue doing this important work in our community. I am thankful for them for meeting with me and for educating me further on the impact Bill C-64 would have on women here in our community and across the country.
    Moving on to the impact on diabetes, we can apply the same cost-saving principle that I was speaking to in the case of contraception to medications that treat diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic disease in Canada, impacting 3.7 million individuals at present. There are projections that this number will continue to grow.

(1210)

[Translation]

    Many of us know someone with diabetes and have seen the devastating effects it can have on a person's quality of life. While diabetes has no cure, treatments are available to control it.

[English]

     These treatments are not always affordable or accessible to those who need them. We know that 25% of Canadians with diabetes have identified that the cost of their medications has impacted their ability to stick to their treatment plans. Neglecting proper management of this disease can result in devastating consequences.
    When we made the announcement introducing Bill C-64, I was honoured to join the Minister of Health and many community advocates, who have been working in this area for some time, at the Centretown Community Health Centre, which is also located in my community of Ottawa Centre. Prior to the announcement, we met with some of the social workers, the primary health care practitioners and nurses who work at the Centretown Community Health Centre, which is a fabulous institution in my community. In fact, I used to serve on the board of the Centretown Community Health Centre some time ago.
    When we met, we talked about the impact of this legislation. With regard to diabetes, we spoke to a specialist there who told us countless stories of individuals who she meets, and treats, who ration their diabetes medication. They are unable to afford the cost of their medication due to their current circumstances. It was made clear that, when diabetes is not properly managed, it can result in severe complications, such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness and even amputation.
    In 2018, the total cost incurred by the health care system due to diabetes was estimated to be around $27 billion, a figure that we can expect to increase to $39 billion by 2028. These figures emphasize the urgent need for effective measures to mitigate the impact of diabetes and its associated costs on both individuals and the health care system as a whole. Independent of the legislation, the Government of Canada revealed its plan to collaborate with the provinces and territories to establish a diabetes devices fund. This initiative aims to guarantee that individuals with diabetes will have access to the essential medical devices and supplies they need to manage their treatment, including syringes, glucose-monitoring devices and insulin pumps.
    This, along with the framework outlined in Bill C-64 for universal single-payer coverage for first line diabetes medications, would prevent any person living with diabetes in Canada from having to ration their medication or compromise their treatment. These actions will benefit all Canadians by helping diabetics control their disease, making it less costly to treat over time.
    I want to address the concerns that pharmacare might affect private drug coverage, something that came up in the conversation when we were considering this bill at committee. Bill C-64 does not mention private drug insurance or regulate any of its activities. I want to be really clear about that. Our work with provinces and territories to offer universal single-payer coverage for contraception and diabetes medications would benefit all Canadians needing those drugs, regardless of their insurance status. Since the initiative is focused, benefits provided by private insurance are expected to remain unchanged. That choice remains in place.

[Translation]

    As the two examples just mentioned show, the high cost of medication has become a pressing concern for too many people in Canada. For them, access to affordable medication is still a major challenge.

[English]

    When medicare was first introduced in the 1960s, prescription medicines played a smaller role in the overall health care system. They were primarily administered in hospital settings, and those distributed beyond hospital confines were generally low in cost, but that is not the reality today.
    Today, medicines are a vital and regular part of maintaining one's health. We know that roughly 1.1 million Canadians lack access to private or public drug insurance. That is approximately 2.8% of our population. In 2021, Statistics Canada found that one in five adults in Canada did not have the insurance they needed to cover the cost of the medication. In other words, 21% of adults in Canada face out-of-pocket drug costs that create a financial burden. This can lead people to forego their basic needs, such as food or heat, or even lead people to ration their medications or choose not to fill their prescriptions at all. Canadians should not have to choose between buying groceries and paying for medication. Being forced to make choices like these has serious consequences. Whether they are skipping meals or doses of medication, or opting to go without, sets off a chain reaction of adverse effects on the health of individuals and can heighten the strain on our health care and social support systems.
    We can do better and we must do better. While it entails a financial commitment, the alternative, which is not investing in our pharmacare, would result in far more severe health and financial repercussions, as we can see with the two examples I presented earlier.
     It is worth also noting that Canada has one of the highest per capita rates of prescription drug usage globally. Despite recent improvements, the elevated drug costs and the fragmented nature of drug coverage pose significant barriers for many individuals in Canada when it comes to accessing the prescription medications they need. In acknowledgement of these concerns, in December 2023, our government announced plans to advance the establishment of a Canadian drug agency, in short the CDA, with an investment of $89.5 million over five years, starting in 2024-25. The CDA will be built from the existing Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health in partnership with provinces and territories. The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health publicly announced its transition to the CDA on May 1.

(1215)

[Translation]

     Canada's drug agency, or CDA, will play a central role in leading and coordinating initiatives designed to improve the sustainability and readiness of Canada's drug system for the future. Bill C‑64 sets out three main tasks for the CDA.

[English]

    Initially, the agency would prepare a preliminary list of prescription drugs and related products to guide the establishment of a national formulary. This formulary would outline the range of prescription medications and associated products that Canadians should be able to access under the universal, national pharmacare.
     Additionally, Bill C-64 would entrust the agency with formulating a national bulk purchasing strategy for prescription drugs and related products in co-operation with partners and stakeholders, including provinces and territories. This plan would explore methods to lower the cost of prescription drugs, which could help alleviate financial pressures for both individuals and the health care system. The agency would be required to finalize both the preliminary list and the strategy no later than the first anniversary of the day on which this act receives royal assent.
     Last, the agency would aid in the publication of a pan-Canadian strategy concerning the appropriate utilization of prescription drugs and related products. This report would be released within one year of the bill receiving royal assent. Canada's drug agency would also be obligated to provide updates on the progress of implementing the strategy every three years.
     As we know, national universal pharmacare cannot be accomplished without the contributions of the provinces, territories and indigenous peoples.

[Translation]

    Given Canada's size and diversity, each province and territory has unique needs and specific challenges.

[English]

    To establish a national pharmacare program that is both effective and fair, it is crucial to foster strong collaboration between the Government of Canada and all partners. Each stride toward national universal pharmacare will be made hand-in-hand with these partners. Future funding to support pharmacare will be allocated to provincial and territorial governments by way of bilateral agreements. This funding would supplement, rather than replace, existing provincial and territorial investments on public drug benefit programs.
     In the immediate future, we will draw insights from ongoing initiatives as we persist in our efforts to enhance accessibility and affordability for all Canadians through a national pharmacare program.
    Since August 2021, for example, our government has been working with the Government of Prince Edward Island to reduce drug costs for patients through the improving affordable access to prescription drugs initiative. Since then, P.E.I. has expanded access to over 100 additional medications on its roster of covered drugs, including treatments for cancer, heart disease, migraine and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few.
     As of June 1, 2023, P.E.I. lowered copayment costs to $5 for nearly 60% of commonly prescribed medications for its residents. As a result of this initiative, within the first nine months alone, P.E.I. residents have saved over $2.8 million in out-of-pocket costs for over 330,000 prescriptions.
    In addition to the progress being made on a regional level, I am happy to also share some of the work being done on a national level to support our pharmacare efforts. Bill C-64 builds on the work we have done to make drugs for rare diseases more accessible.
     In March 2023, we launched Canada's first-ever national strategy for drugs for rare diseases. Supported by federal funding of up to $1.5 billion over three years, this strategy aims to enhance accessibility and affordability for medications for rare diseases, ensuring they are in reach for those who need them.

(1220)

[Translation]

    It marks the beginning of a national approach seeking to meet the need for drugs used in the treatment of rare diseases.

[English]

     As my time is winding down, I want to say in conclusion that, in Canada, it is our belief that everyone should receive prompt access to the health care they need, when they need it, irrespective of financial needs. This principle is a core Canadian belief, and we are dedicated to defending it.

[Translation]

    Bill C‑64 is a major step forward in our commitment to guaranteeing all Canadians access to affordable, high-quality drugs.

[English]

    Our plan for universal coverage of contraception and diabetes medications would be life-changing for individuals, families, society and our health care system. While there is a lot of work ahead, we have already made substantial progress, from regulatory modernization to enhancing access to drugs for rare diseases, establishing Canada's drug agency and collaborating with the provinces and territories.
     Passing this legislation would allow us to build on this momentum. We stand at the threshold of a new era in Canadian health care. We should seize this opportunity to invest in a stronger Canada.

[Translation]

    I thank members for their attention.

[English]

    I encourage all members of the House to vote in favour of Bill C-64.
    Mr. Speaker, I am curious, and I hope that the member will give me a direct answer on this. There has been some real concern, because the way the bill is structured does suggest, as it talks about being single-payer but very limited in the scope of coverage, that it could have the potential of taking away current coverage that up to 97% of Canadians already have. This is something that I am hearing about from my constituents, who are concerned about the way the government has brought forward this legislation, the way it has partnered with the NDP, and that it has not had the conversations with private plan providers. There is real concern that Canadians would actually be worse off after the Liberals have passed the bill.
    I am hoping that the member could provide some specific details around whether he shares the concern that up to 97% of Canadians could see less coverage after the bill passes than they currently have.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the member directly that this is not going to happen. The choice is maintained in this bill. He asked for a direct answer, and I am giving him the direct answer. In fact, at the committee, we discussed this matter at length. The minister was very clear, saying that the choice will always be maintained.
    As I said in my remarks, there is no reference to private health insurance. That is within the prerogative of individuals who have private insurance. In fact, it was also accepted by those who were representing private insurance and those who were representing organizations such as Diabetes Canada. They have been given that insurance, and they do not see within the legislation any provision that relates to the taking away of private insurance. That is how this legislation is structured, and Canadians across the country will be able to maintain their private insurance if they choose to.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in his speech, my colleague talked about the contributions needed from Quebec and the provinces. Would he not agree that, when it comes to pharmacare, Quebec is already making a significant contribution with its hybrid program, which does cover everyone? Even people with no income are covered by the public component. We do have a public component.
    First, I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on whether it would be more cost-effective for the federal government to give us our share so that we can improve our own system based on the federal government's objectives, in order to avoid harmonization issues.
    Second, given that any duplication really bothers me, I would like to know what the Canadian drug agency is going to do that the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux, the Quebec institute for excellence in health and social services, is not already doing in Quebec.

(1225)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are absolutely clear that we will work along with provinces and territories. Delivery of health care is a provincial responsibility. I think we all accept that, and we are all together in our desire to serve Canadians better across this country in provinces and territories and to make sure that they have the best health care accessible to them. That is why, given the diverse programs that exist across the country, and the member opposite gave the example of Quebec, it is important that we work with provinces and territories as soon as this legislation is passed into law, so that we can ensure that, when it comes to diabetes and contraceptives, there is universal coverage for all Canadians in all provinces and territories, and the manner in which it is provided is, of course, working in tandem with the systems that are in place within those provinces and territories.
     Mr. Speaker, if anybody wants to see the deterioration and disappearance of public health care, they can come to Ontario. Last year, we had 1,000 emergency closures. This year, it is going to be higher. Now, if the poor emergency wards could only sell Budweiser, they might get the attention of Doug Ford and his grifter government, who are more interested in beer cans than they are in health care.
    I raise this because of my concern that, while we are talking about improving health care for every Canadian, we see one party, the Conservatives, steadfast against it. We see the record of Conservatives in province after province of undermining, threatening and attacking public health care, and here they are, standing up in the House day after day, attacking pharmacare.
    At least with Doug Ford, we know we are going to get a can of beer out of it. With the Conservatives, we are going to get totally rooked.
     Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member knows my view on Doug Ford's government and how we can be better served in Ontario.
    When I was knocking on doors in the last election, one of the messages that I heard repeatedly from my constituents was to work with all members of this House, all political parties. My constituents were absolutely clear on ensuring that we get things done. I am really glad that we have found a common path with the NDP when it comes to introducing pharmacare and the Canadian dental care plan, because in my riding of Ottawa Centre, and I am sure it is true in all constituencies across the country, that is what Canadians want. They want politicians to work together to find ways of improving their lives. This legislation would do this. It would ensure that, for once, Canadians would start getting access to pharmacare. This is framework legislation that starts with contraceptives and medications and that would improve the lives of millions of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the benefits of being Canadian is that we come together and work together to build national programs. Historically, through the provinces and the federal government collectively, we have built a strong health care system. Provincially, we have a universal education system. These things work. Over the last few years, we have seen the introduction of benefits for pharmacare and child care. We have seen the introduction of a disability benefit tax credit and, of course, many additional programs.
    Why is it important for us, as Canadians, to stick together and build these types of national programs? What does it do to the long-term impact of Canadians and this country as a whole?
     Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Don Valley East, who had the honour of serving in the provincial legislature. He will remember when we worked together to create OHIP+, which started providing universal access to pharmacare for young people, which was a game-changer. It was unfortunate that Doug Ford gutted that program.
    The member for Don Valley East is absolutely right. Our number one job and responsibility to Canadians is to make sure that we make their lives easier, and the way we make their lives easier, whether it is affordable child care or seniors being able to access a dentist or dental hygienist to look after their oral care, is to have programs available to make their lives better. That is what we all hear at people's doors. Those are the kinds of things people are concerned with, and that is the job we have been given.
    In particular, in this Parliament, as we come out of the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic that we all lived through, so many structures within our society have been shaken as a result of the pandemic that we have to do this extra work, whether it is through Bill C-64 bringing pharmacare into our country, through $10-a-day child care, a Canadian dental care program or the unprecedented investment that we are making in our public health care system to ensure that Canadians know that their government is actually paying particular attention to their day-to-day needs, and this is exactly what we are doing.

(1230)

     Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity for follow-up, because the member said Liberals promised that it will not happen, but what are the assurances that this is in fact the case? Time and time again, we see a litany of broken promises by the government, partnered with its coalition partners in the NDP. What assurances are there beyond their word?
    Mr. Speaker, in the legislation, the choice is clear. There is no conversation about taking choice away whatsoever, so I encourage the member to have a look at the legislation.
    Second, I would ask the member to support this legislation, to make sure that Canadians have access to pharmacare, to stop spreading misinformation, to stop creating fear among Canadians and to focus on initiatives like this one, which should not be a partisan issue, to help as many Canadians as possible from coast to coast to coast.
    Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to be able to stand in the people's House and to talk about the issues that are so important to them. I appreciate also the opportunity to have had a couple of questions to that previous member. If I could sum up, when I posed what are very legitimate questions about the plan that the Liberals have presented to Canadians, he basically said, “Do not worry about it. Just trust us, and we will take care of it, so there is no need to discuss it any further.”
    I am sorry, but that is not how democracy works and that is not how this place works. I would suggest that this is part of the reason why, over the last nine years of the current Liberal government, we have seen a litany of failures on virtually everything that the Prime Minister and the government, propped up by their coalition partners in the NDP, have tried to accomplish. There is scandal. There is failure, and there is a series of broken promises that go along with it. As a result, we are seeing an erosion of trust in our institutions and outcomes for Canadians being decreased. At every step of the process, we are seeing that Canadians are worse off today than they were when the Prime Minister was first elected in 2015 on all these fluffy promises with zero substance. When it comes to the bill that we have before us, it is simply another example of that.
    I will take us on a bit of a journey, if members would allow me. During the 2021 election, which the Prime Minister said would not happen but did anyway, and we all know what that is, Conservatives said very clearly that a vote for the Liberal Party was a vote for a coalition. We said that during the election, and yet the Liberals and the NDP said that it would never happen, that there would be no agreement and there was no chance. Those were their words. In fact, the media even started criticizing Conservatives for suggesting that this would be the case, yet it was only a number of months after the election in 2021 when we saw the so-called confidence and supply agreement, which is really just a very poorly negotiated coalition agreement.
     Ultimately, we saw that the NDP gave away any bargaining power that it could have had in the context of a minority Parliament and just gave carte blanche to a Liberal Prime Minister and his government to do with that power what they wanted. There is the NDP, backing them up every step of the way. We have seen over the last two years or so that the consequence of that is a series of poor public policy outcomes, where the Liberals will stand up and peacock all day long about the success that they are showing and the work that they are doing for Canadians and whatnot, and yet when we look into the details, we see some of the most shallow policy outcomes, which I would suggest have a very small chance of even being actualized when it comes down to it. The joke that I have heard from a number of constituents, so I will share it with members, is about George Strait's song about having some oceanfront property in Arizona, and it is certainly that sort of sale. It seems like the New Democrats would be quick to buy anything that the Liberals are offering, specifically when it comes to pharmacare.
     It is very relevant to the conversation, because it was at the last New Democratic convention where members—

(1235)

     There is a point of order from the member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, I think we need an appropriateness of quoting lyrics. I like George Strait, but it would be more credible if the member were actually accurate. It would be Simon and—
    That is debate.
    We will carry on.
     Mr. Speaker, I can assure members that neither this House nor any Canadian wants to hear me sing, so I will spare members of this House and Canadians that. I would suggest that it was when—
     There is a point of order.
     Mr. Speaker, the member for Timmins—James Bay is himself out of order when he raises these irrelevant points about the lyrics, when the sole purpose of this is to interrupt the remarks of others. It is shameful. He ought to apologize to the House for his consistently shameful behaviour.
    The member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would like to apologize to my honourable colleague that his own backbench is interrupting him while he is trying to make sense of something that is not sensible. It is no wonder the member wants to interrupt.
    Mr. Speaker, it was audible by everybody here that the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston referred to the member for Timmins—James Bay as a “moron”. I would suggest that you, Mr. Speaker, ask that he withdraw that comment, because that was extremely unparliamentary. He should apologize as well directly to the member.
    The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston.
    Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to withdraw the remarks, and I do deeply apologize to the member for Timmins—James Bay who is indeed the model of decorum for all of us here. He sets the standard for all of us, along with the member from Kingston and the Islands
    Okay, I will accept it as having been said.
    The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
    Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting that when I start talking about the record and the failures of the NDP, all of a sudden they are quick to cause disorder. I would suggest that it is the embarrassment of their record that offends those New Democrats and why they seem to be so quick to buy anything that that Liberal Prime Minister is selling. I will outline specifically the definitive proof of why that is the case.
    When those New Democrats, late last year, had a convention, they drew a line in the sand, saying that they would get out of that coalition agreement, they would not have confidence in the leader, the member for Burnaby South, and that was enough, they did not want anything to do with those Liberals and this coalition confidence and supply nonsense if they could not get the job done.
    However, what was the first thing that the leader of the New Democratic Party did? Well, he paused and effectively said, “Well, you know, we simply need more time. We are working out the details of what that might look like.” Then there were some very concerning allegations about changing some of the electoral system and whatnot. We then saw that there were some red lines, which certainly members of that party talked a lot about, on how they were going to have this fulsome program that was going to be announced and it was going to solve every Canadian's problem. There was going to be no issue with it.
    Then, what was announced? I would suggest that if we were to catch any of those New Democratic members off-camera, they would be sorely disappointed about the work that the member for Burnaby South did and the so-called negotiations that led to the program that we have here before us today, which covers little, costs lots and has many unanswered questions about whether the benefit would be actualized to Canadians who need it. I think that that is the proof point that this NDP is interested in nothing more than the photo-ops and the illusion that its members can have a communications plan. It is a sad state of affairs when we have such laziness masquerading as public policy. I would suggest that this debate that we have before us is proof point, and this offends those New Democrats.
     In fact, it was interesting, because when we look back at the history of the CCF, and the many involved with that, there was a true desire to see that the social gospel movement was much of the driving force behind the history of why that party even started. Yet, they have abandoned those—

(1240)

     Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I find it interesting that the member opposite seems to be obsessed with the NDP and has not yet spoken on the pharmacare legislation at hand. I would ask that he get to relevance.
    Relevance is a point of order. Actually, it is the best one we have had so far today. Let us stick to the bill before us.
     The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
     Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how calling out the failures of the NDP not only offends New Democrats, but offends Liberal members of Parliament. It truly is telling of the level of absurdity that this place has descended into, when simply calling out the failures of this so-called confidence and supply agreement, this coalition, this poorly negotiated agreement that has propped up one of the most corrupt governments in Canadian history, that NDP and Liberal members would become so offended when we bring forward some things, including talking about the history of those parties. I will be happy to address some of the failures specific to the Liberal Party here in short order, for that member specifically, but it seems like that they do not want to hear those things because they are simply offended that somebody would dare question their pre-eminence.
    I will get into the substance of Bill C-64 in just a moment, because the context of it is so important. The Liberals, backed up by the New Democrats, do not want an opposition in this place. That is why the Liberals bought off the NDP. That is why we see so often that the Bloc Québécois are quick to go with them. They want an audience, not an opposition. This is a sad state of affairs. This place has a long democratic tradition, where we should be able to discuss the affairs of the nation and have meaningful debates. Whenever somebody suggests very valid points of criticism, such as those I brought forward to the previous Liberal member, like our concerns about the impact that Bill C-64 would have on the coverage of many Canadians, the government's response has been to ask us to trust it. Many Canadians over the last nine years have clearly communicated their concerns to me and many of my colleagues. I know that many Liberals are hearing the same thing. As I have travelled across the country, in airports or in communities that, in some cases, are represented by Liberals, I have heard from individuals saying they have lost trust not only in the Liberals, but also in the way that the Liberals, propped up by the NDP, have conducted themselves over the last number of years. There is an erosion of trust in our institutions.
     For the government to ask us to trust it is not good enough, when there a real risk that 97% of Canadians, who do have some form of drug coverage currently, may be at risk of losing some of those benefits. That is a real concern for so many Canadians. In this circumstance, the government has promised much and has truly delivered very little. Government members will stand up and bluster about how great this is and whatnot, but when it comes to what Canadians actually need, they are failing to deliver.
    A clear proof point on that front comes from the government's work with provinces. The Prime Minister was quick to brag about going around the provinces to deliver his agenda. However, when it comes to the history and the way that this federation was built, health care is provincial jurisdiction. Now, the federal government does play a role in the federal health transfer. We have seen on that front that there is a litany of failures. In fact, the Prime Minister promised to tear up the previous agreement that would have actually resulted in more funding dollars, because it was tagged to inflation, than the agreement that the Prime Minister went around the backs of different provinces to sign. He was quick to talk and puff up his chest, yet he has not met with premiers since those initial discussions, despite saying it was so important to meet with the premiers nearly a decade ago.
    We have even seen how different provinces are treated differently. There are some provinces that the Prime Minister has been quick to suggest the government is happy to work with and other provinces that they may not like the party that those people in that province elected. It is not a conversation around whether they should or should not like a particular political party. The government is quick to dismiss any province that would bring forward legitimate concerns. When the government tries to go around the provinces, it ends up ultimately putting Canadians and the care that Canadians expect and deserve at risk.
     There is no question that we need to address some of the challenges when it comes to health care. That is why Conservatives have been talking so significantly about some of these things, including making sure that Canadians have access to care, especially when there is a shortage of family doctors. There are so many doctors who are not eligible to work in Canada today because there is no clear process for recognition. The solution to that is very simple.

(1245)

    We need leadership that will bring the country together, to figure out that path forward so that what could be tens of thousands of doctors could actually get to work delivering the care for Canadians, following that Hippocratic oath that they took when they entered medical school. That would be good news for everybody because it would address a shortage. It would increase productivity. One of the challenges, and it is interesting because one does not hear the Liberals talk very much about this, is that we have a massive productivity challenge in our country. When one has wait-lists, when one has long processing times, and this is not limited to health care but includes permitting for houses, benefits, name it, if there is a delay, it has a negative effect on productivity. However, it is specifically impacting productivity on our national workforce when it comes to health care.
    Canadians are being forced to wait. A constituent of mine waited three years for a hip replacement because they were in their 40s. Because of the processes and the hoops that they had to jump through, they had to stop working and there were family challenges associated with that. Again, these other parties do not want to hear some of this stuff, because they would rather simply stand on an empty promise than actually address the real challenges that are facing our constituents. When it comes to productivity, if we can address some of those things, we will see our national productivity increase, and we will provide more doctor and nurses. It makes sense that one has a nurse that is trained at an institution and has the training that is required to deliver the quality of care that is acceptable in this country.
    The proposal that the Leader of the Opposition has brought forward, which he has called the blue seal plan, would give certainty in a process that currently has no certainty. That is just common sense. For somebody who is looking for opportunity, looking for a future, looking to build what used to be known as the Canadian dream, which has been so much eroded under these Liberals, there would be certainty.
    A physician, a nurse or another health care provider could come to this country and have certainty. What the Leader of the Opposition has talked about is that within 60 days they would be given the thumbs-up or thumbs-down so they could get to work or at least know then, going forward, what upgrading and what training needed to be done so that they could deliver that care that, obviously, they want to give to Canadians.
    It is truly a shame that there are so many talented immigrants in this country who are not able to do the work that they trained so hard to do. That is an absolute disgrace, yet, with some political will, some collaboration and working with provinces, as opposed to pitting them against each other like what the Liberal government does on a daily basis, we could see solutions and better outcomes for Canadians.
     There are serious concerns that I hear about, and I know many of my colleagues do as well. Because of the potential impacts of the passing of this bill, there would be an erosion or outright dismantling of private drug plans. That includes publicly funded drug plans that are delivered by private companies, as everybody in this place, and all public servants, the 400,000 of them or so, are experiencing, as well as with provincial and other levels of government.
    In this process, we have not heard clarity. The Liberals will say that they addressed that at committee. Yes, it was asked. The questions were asked, but the answers were not given in any way that would provide certainty.
    What does this mean? The bill talks about being single-payer, which may be simply fanciful language from the Liberals to appease their coalition partners in the NDP and means nothing. I would suggest that this is just as bad, because it is abusing the democratic process and just speaks to the poor negotiating tactics of the leader from Burnaby South, but we will leave that, because I think I addressed that appropriately in the beginning of my speech. This could practically mean that private companies would then be changing the way that they deliver those specifics. It would put employee benefits at risk, including when somebody signs up for a job. When somebody signs a contract for work, the benefit package is a part of the compensation package.

(1250)

    The Liberals have not done their job or their homework in terms of making sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, as the saying goes. What they are doing could put some of those things at risk and directly impact the ability of Canadians from coast to coast to coast to access the drugs they already have.
    That could mean simple issues, such as the pharmacist saying, well, this certain drug is not covered, but this one is, or outright not being able to get it covered altogether. This can be a huge issue in some cases. Further, it could scrap coverage plans, and there is no question that it will force Canadians onto the government plan. We see this as well when it comes to the dental care plan.
    We have yet another example where there is big talk but little in terms of actual deliverables for Canadians. In fact, it is interesting. When we listen to the Minister of Health, he talks about how many people have signed up for the program. Even last week, he said how many people had registered for potential appointments. The language he used was truly a cop-out.
    If the government want to deliver health care for Canadians, then it should get to work and work with provinces to ensure that provincial plans can be complemented and whatnot. However, that is not what the Liberals did. They signed an agreement, seemingly on the back of a napkin, to keep the NDP happy. This does not fulfill the promises and the objectives that they so publicly brag about.
    The result is a very real potential that, in terms of outcomes, Canadians will not be better off after the Liberals have tried to fix the problem. This is the case when it comes to drug coverage, as we are debating today; when it comes to dental care, as has been and will continue to be debated; and when it comes to so many of the other things that the Liberals have promised.
     What is the solution? Well, first and foremost, we need leadership in this country that will bring provinces together to address the challenges we face in ensuring that Canadians can get the health care they need. That includes mental health care. This is incredibly relevant when it comes to this conversation because the Liberal Party promised that there would be a Canada mental health transfer, yet we are now several years into a mandate and that promise has not been delivered on. I guess it was not negotiated on the back of a napkin in this confidence and supply agreement.
    This speaks to how little the Liberals care about ensuring that Canadians have access to the care they actually need. We need leadership in this country so we can make sure that every Canadian can, in fact, have those better health outcomes and that Canadians can, once again, start to trust the institutions that we have worked so hard to pay for over multiple generations in this country.
    I look forward to being able to answer questions on this and ultimately ensure that we get answers for Canadians.

(1255)

     Mr. Speaker, the member spoke for 20 minutes about many different subjects, but he still did not have much clarity on a very simple bill.
     Just so Canadians know, the pharmacare bill speaks to supplying people who are diabetic with medicine and supplies, as well as supplying people with contraception.
    The member opposite said many different things, and he talked about process. Do you believe that the government should be in a place where it can provide people who have diabetes with medicine and women with contraception, yes or no? It is a very simple question.
     What I believe in and what I do not believe in is not important. Maybe the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot could answer.
     Mr. Speaker, if the bill were addressing those things, then so be it. However, there are far more questions than answers when it comes to access to drugs that Canadians already have and working with provinces.
    When it comes to ensuring that Canadians have access to the care they need, the bill would cost a lot and deliver little. At the rate a which the Liberals have expounded upon failure, we see that Canadians should certainly not have high expectations when it comes to being able to deliver their basics.
    I would simply say this: When the Liberals peacock about all their promises, they never talk about deliverables, because they have so little to show for all the dollars they have spent.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec realized a long time ago that it needed pharmacare. The Bloc Québécois is calling for Quebec to have the right to opt out with full compensation, so that it can improve its plan. That is also what the Quebec National Assembly called for unanimously, across party lines.
    I have a simple question for my Conservative colleague. What are the Conservatives proposing for pharmacare?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I think that is part of the questions Canadians have. They elect provincial governments that are responsible for delivering health care. They expect their federal government to work with the provinces. Have we seen that? The simple answer is no, we have not. We see a government that is quick to divide and demonize and that pits one province and one region against another instead of working for the best interests of Canadians. It cares more about political wins and photo ops than it does about seeing results. Not only are the Liberals a dollar short and a day late, but they also have no interest in ensuring that Canadians have access to the health care we pay for and deserve. This has become very clear.
    There is a lot of work that needs to be done. The Liberals are failing at it. It is time for leadership at the top to ensure that we can bring accountability and a system that actually works for the best interests of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives seem to be ideologically opposed to the contraception components of pharmacare. We heard from the member for Peace River—Westlock, who exposed the Conservative agenda, which is to end access to reproductive freedoms for women and access to abortion. That has been very clear. He spoke out loud something that seems to be a hidden agenda of Conservatives.
    I have been to Camrose and talked to people there. They have raised the issue of pharmacare. We know that pharmacare access to contraception and diabetes medications can make a difference of up to $1,000 or $1,500 a month. There are millions of Canadians who need access to these important medications. It is true that the bill just talks about those first two classes of medication, but it is going to make an important difference in the lives of 18,000 people in the member's riding of Battle River—Crowfoot when it comes to diabetes medication, as well as 25,000 people in his riding when it comes to contraception.
    Are Conservatives ideologically opposed to helping people, or are they simply being cruel to the people who face the struggle, each and every day, to pay for their medication and put food on the table?
     Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the member wants to talk about ideology when he, along with his leader and every single member of the New Democratic Party, have abandoned any semblance of ideology that once existed. They have abandoned it for the pursuit of some false perception of power. They stand in this place and claim that they are solving all these problems; however, when it comes to the actual deliverables for Canadians, the very people the member is referencing in my constituency, and, in fact, in his constituency and all 338 constituencies across this great country, are not seeing the results that are being promised.
    The member is propping up the Prime Minister; he has sold out to a false Liberal agenda that truly is a day late and a dollar short. The NDP and the Liberals are selling Canadians short, not only on the ability to access the care they need but also on the real conversation that needs to take place to ensure that we can have a better health care system that meets the needs of Canadians.

(1300)

    Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague's speech and his quite accurate suggestion that there is a massive trust deficit in Canada today. Canadians do not trust their federal government, because of the many broken promises our country has been littered with.
    Could my colleague touch on a few more of those proof points that show why Canadians are now so skeptical about the Liberal government, with its NDP coalition partners, being able to actually deliver a pharmacare program in the first place?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague from Abbotsford. He was a minister in a government that cared not only about making announcements but also ensuring that, at every step of the process, the hard work required to accomplish anything in government would be done. He and many others under the previous Conservative government were willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
    There are so many proof points that it would take days to litigate them all, but I would simply suggest this: I hear a very tragic thing from constituents. They say that there was a time when they could respect the institutions even if they did not like the government, but increasingly, because of the scandals, the broken promises and the ego-driven policies of the Liberal government, propped up by the sellout NDP, they have lost trust in our institutions more generally. That is a tragedy.
    It is going to take work by Conservatives to ensure that we can repair the trust that has been so damaged by the Liberals and New Democrats.
    Mr. Speaker, the member talks about losing trust. I would like to say that Canadian women have lost trust in the Conservative Party.
    You are standing there now, objecting to a program that would give contraceptives to women, when most of your caucus does not want women to have choice when it comes to other issues. For you to now say that we should not be providing contraceptives to 25,000 women in your riding, as well as other women across Canada, is absolutely absurd.
    Could you please explain whether you support Canadian women or not?
    I am not going to explain it. My colleagues should make sure they talk through the Chair instead of directly to other members.
    The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
     Mr. Speaker, how do we know that Liberals are down in the polls? We know because they are bringing back these divisive issues. They want to play politics as opposed to working for the best interests of Canadians. The member, and so many from both the Liberal caucus and the New Democratic caucus, are terrified about the prospect of not getting their pensions, so they are trying to divide Canadians.
    The Leader of the Opposition has been clear: Conservatives are here to work for Canadians, including Canadian women.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    On a point of order, the hon. member for Abbotsford.
    Mr. Speaker, as I was listening to that answer, I could not hear what my colleague was saying. The member for Kingston and the Islands, and many others, such as the member for—
    I noticed it was really loud in here.

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order, or usual practice of the House, during the debate pursuant to Standing Order 66 on Motion No. 57 to concur in the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair and at the conclusion of the time provided for debate or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, all questions necessary to dispose of the motions be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred pursuant to Standing Order 66.

(1305)

     All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    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)

[Translation]

Pharmacare Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-64, An Act respecting pharmacare, be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I have risen three times today because I was so eager to speak.
     I am pleased to speak today at third reading of Bill C-64. We have been debating this bill for a long time. Clause-by-clause study took place last week, but we do need to wind up the debate at some point.
     Before continuing with my speech, I would ask my colleagues to respect my right to speak and not talk over me.
     First, to make things clear, if they are not already, the Bloc Québécois's position has not changed one iota: We are against Bill C-64.
     I would like to remind my colleagues of the purpose of the bill. Obviously, a bill can have several different purposes, depending on which side we are on. Sometimes it may seem like a bill has a noble goal, but that may not be the case.
     I would like to talk about something that is totally obvious to me but that people tend to forget when we get into these debates. Bill C‑64 addresses one of the 27 items in the agreement that the Liberals reached with the NDP in 2022 to stay in power by forming a sort of coalition with the NDP. This may have been in the NDP's best interests, although maybe it will want to argue that point.
     I would like to remind the House of the wording of the second item in this agreement: “Continuing progress towards a universal national pharmacare program by passing a Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of 2023”.
     They want to “continu[e] progress”. We often hear similar phrases in the House, phrases like continuing to move forward, continuing progress or continuing to do something. That is all very vague, in my opinion. I would imagine that pretty much anything we do is progress, even the bill we are currently discussing. Perhaps that covers the disagreement there was between the Liberals and the NDP on this issue.
     As members know, the Liberals dragged their feet on introducing this bill. This bill was in the works for years. They were talking about it in 2022. It was introduced on February 29. They could not agree on the cost of the measure. Of course we would like to see a pharmacare act, but perhaps not at all costs, if my colleagues will pardon the pun.
     This bill was introduced on February 29, at the very last minute, to save the agreement and to save the Liberals. I might add that it was also to save the NDP. I must say that I did not hold my breath at the time.
     A moment ago, I talked about the purpose of the bill. I think that this bill was introduced purely for the purpose of garnering votes. It could have been introduced sooner, but there was an agreement. The NDP would not want to bring the government down. That is why I was not surprised when the bill was introduced this year, one year away from the election, just before the budget.
     I also get the feeling that it may have been because the government is short on ideas. I have spoken many times about the government's lack of vision. It has been eight, almost nine, years since the government came to power. It will have been 10 years by the time the election comes around.
     I have noticed that the House is copying the debates taking place south of the border. Take the debates over contraceptives and diabetes medication. It is not that I am not happy to see my colleagues across the aisle and next to me tackling the official opposition, to use a soccer term, here in the House over a woman's right to do what she wants with her own body. I was not unhappy about that. However, it is being done for the purpose of gaining votes. There is one party in the House that wants to limit women's rights. This may resonate with some people, even me, but it should not be done for that purpose alone.
     In fact, maybe it was entirely arbitrary. The government did not know what to do, what to propose. It desperately wanted pharmacare, but it had no idea what it really wanted to do, so it thought about what could help it win votes. It figured that it could take certain debates from the U.S. bipartisan system and copy them here to pit the good guys against the bad guys.

(1310)

     In short, I am not saying that these billions of dollars that will be spent by the government are a form of pre-election advertising, but that is what it looks like. Again, Quebeckers and Canadians need to be aware of the partisan agenda hidden behind this bill. There is a hidden objective.
     I think it takes a certain kind of courage to oppose a bill that seems virtuous. That is what we are being told: If we do not vote in favour of the bill, it is because we are against it. I, of course, am 100% in favour of a woman's right to choose and all methods of contraception. I am a member of the Bloc Québécois. I speak on behalf of Quebec. I am not against the provinces' positions. I do not mind if they decide that the federal government can interfere in their jurisdictions. That is their choice, and I respect it. At the same time, that is not what I want for Quebec. That is why the Bloc Québécois proposed the following amendment in committee:
    Despite subsections (1) and (2), a province or territory may elect not to participate in national universal pharmacare, in which case that province or territory remains unconditionally entitled to receive payments in order to maintain the accessibility and affordability of the prescription drugs and related products already covered by its public pharmacare.
    Our amendment concerns the ability to opt out with full compensation from the pharmacare program. It was not debated because we could not debate it in committee during clause-by-clause study of the bill. It was not rejected either. I would say that what happened is even worse: It was ruled inadmissible. I wish I could avoid talking about the reasons the committee chair ruled the amendment inadmissible, but I think it is important to go over them because this is just another clear demonstration of bad faith, in my opinion, and the federal government's disregard for the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec.
    It was argued that the amendment required a royal recommendation, which is false. What we were told is that it will generate additional costs and that, since we are an opposition party, it requires a royal recommendation. I hate to say it, but that is absolutely false. The amendment did not require a royal recommendation, because the funds had already been committed by the government. The Bloc Québécois's amendment was therefore legitimate and admissible.
     This is not the only time that government members have made arguments that do not hold water and that are merely a pretext to interfere in Quebec's jurisdiction. The government did the same thing in the case of Bill C-35, which deals with the child care program. As far as I am concerned, this is not only a sign of disrespect toward Quebec, it is basically an insult, because over the decades, Quebec has built a social safety net that is the envy of North America. We have pharmacare, as well as dental coverage for young people. We have free education and early childhood centres. We have made some huge social advances.
     In this case, the federal government is digging in its heels and refusing to allow Quebec to opt out unconditionally with full compensation. As I see it, Ottawa is refusing to recognize Quebec's decades of leadership in this area. The same thing happened with child care centres and Bill C‑35. What is more, the federal government is doing all this without having jurisdiction over this area or having any expertise in care and social services. Quebec is being denied something we have every right to request by a government that lacks both expertise and jurisdiction. The government has no compunction about turning us down, but at the same time, it has to follow our example with a view to “continuing progress”, as they put it so eloquently. I have no problem with the federal government continuing progress, but I do not want this progress to come at Quebec's expense.

(1315)

     As I said before, Quebec already has a public pharmacare plan for part of the population that the government introduced nearly 30 years ago. I need to repeat this because I think some people have trouble hearing it. This is not the case with everyone, but in the House, it is true of nearly the majority. As far as Canada is concerned, it is trying to catch up. It is behind by 30 years, so now it is encroaching on our jurisdiction. It may be more. We also have a private plan offered by employers, to which workers contribute as well. No one in Quebec lacks pharmacare coverage. People need to stop spreading falsehoods.
     The choice was made by Quebeckers. It was not Ottawa that made this choice, it was Quebec. Our plan is also paid for by Quebeckers. The federal government did not give a red cent for this plan. We know what is right for us. We do not need someone else to tell us. We are capable of taking care of ourselves. We do not need paternalistic Ottawa trying to manage a pharmacare plan in Quebec without expertise, without legitimacy and without experience.
    I keep thinking that what the Bloc Québécois is asking from the federal government is simple and it makes sense. We are asking the federal government to take care of its own responsibilities, such as foreign affairs, defence and fisheries. It seems to me that the federal government has enough responsibilities. It has more than enough things to take care of.
    Perhaps that is not sexy enough for the government. I should ask that question. Is that sexy enough for the government? Health and education are the two areas that affect people the most. Of course, health is a matter of major importance. We talk about the things we care about. If we are not alive, then nothing else matters, obviously. Health is important. These are the two budget items that are most important for Quebec.
     The government knows that, for years now, its health transfers have been insufficient. They are shrinking down to nothing. It knows all that. If the government reduces the transfers, the burden will fall heavily on Quebec and the provinces. Who gets the blame when there is a shortage of care and services? Quebec and the provinces, obviously.
     Jean Chrétien understood this well. He bragged to the G7 that all he had to do to balance the budget was reduce health transfers. He said that Canadians would look for someone to blame, but that they would not blame the federal government, because health is under Quebec's and the provinces' jurisdiction. They are the ones who would be cutting health care and education. For him, it was simple: Canadians would take it out on the provinces. The federal government would be able to achieve a balanced budget, and no one would hold anything against it. The provinces would pay the price, both literally and figuratively.
     It always comes down to this, unfortunately, but as a separatist, I have no other choice. I am a separatist and I am pragmatic. It always comes down to the fiscal imbalance. The federal government collects more money than it needs to fulfill its responsibilities, while the provinces and Quebec are not collecting enough to manage their own jurisdictions. They are short of money, which gives the federal government an opening to spend money on things under Quebec's and the provinces' jursidiction.
     It is unbelievable. It is like the federal government is stealing from the provinces and Quebec. It is strangling them. If they meet certain conditions, it will back off and let them breathe again.
     We would not thank anyone who is strangling us for stopping. We understand that interference is always done with a purpose. I mentioned this earlier, but it is still the same thing with the government and its minions.
     The federal government swoops in like a saviour, slapping its flag on cheques, which it tosses around like confetti, and the cavalry of government members run around, trumpets blaring, trying to solve the problems it created itself. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like that image. It has definite educational value. However, although we may be laughing over it, it is a hard fact.
     While the government is gaily running around, it has forgotten why it was elected. Perhaps it does not know. Perhaps it has forgotten. When a government has no vision, it may take a peek in the neighbour's yard, looking for direction.

(1320)

    Again, interfering in areas of provincial and Quebec jurisdiction has a purpose for them. In fact, the purpose is twofold in this case: one, to keep the government in power, and two, to prepare for the next election.
    Until we gain independence, Quebeckers will have to fight to make sure this government respects us, respects our expertise and experience and gives us what is ours, meaning our money and, of course, control over our own jurisdictions. It will also have to respect the fact that we have our own pharmacare program.
    Quebeckers are capable of discussing amongst ourselves, at home, and improving our pharmacare plan with our experts, based on our experience and our wishes. It is not up to the federal government to tell Quebeckers what to do. We refuse to let our own tax money be used against us and at our expense.
    One way to respect us is to vote down Bill C‑64. I may be a member of the Bloc Québécois, but I am not the only one who says so. The Quebec National Assembly has said it too. Christian Dubé, Quebec's health minister, pointed it out the day before the bill was introduced. We do not want this bill. We do not want the federal government to encroach on areas of Quebec's jurisdiction. I would remind the House that the National Assembly alone speaks for all Quebeckers.
    In closing, I would therefore like to let the voices of Quebeckers be heard through the unanimous demands of the National Assembly for compensation to be paid to Quebec. That is what the Bloc Québécois has asked for, because the Bloc Québécois speaks on behalf of Quebeckers. The motion unanimously adopted by the National Assembly on June 14, 2019, reads as follows:
     THAT the National Assembly acknowledge the federal report recommending the establishment of a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan;
    THAT it reaffirm the Government of Québec's exclusive jurisdiction over health;
     THAT it also reaffirm that Québec has had its own general prescription insurance plan for 20 years;
     THAT it indicate to the federal government that Québec refuses to adhere to a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan;
    THAT it ask the Government of Québec to maintain its prescription drug insurance plan and that it demand full financial compensation from the federal government if a project for a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan is officially tabled.
    That was back in 2019, so the Quebec government made its position clear quite some time ago. Today, I am still trying to be a voice for the National Assembly. I hoped that the federal government would respect Quebec's decision to refuse to join the federal plan, for example, in the motion put forward at the committee studying Bill C‑64. We respect the provinces that want to take part in the program set out in the bill, since coverage is rather inconsistent across Canada, but in Quebec, everyone is covered by a pharmacare program.
    It is up to us to decide what we want to do next. It is not up to the federal government.
    Mr. Speaker, I am quite fond of the member, but she just said that we need to listen to Quebeckers.
    However, as the Bloc Québécois members should know, the largest coalition in Quebec's history, namely two million people under the umbrella of all the central labour unions, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, the Union des consommateurs and all the allied groups around the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux, is calling for us to pass this bill, Bill C‑64.
    The coalition members have been very critical of the current program in Quebec, including the fact that there are user fees for the drugs and many people are not covered. There are a lot of problems with the current situation. This broad coalition that the Bloc Québécois seems to refuse to listen to, says the following:
    We are asking the federal government not to give in to the provinces and territories, which are asking for an unconditional right to opt out with full financial compensation.
    The coalition members want to have the NDP's public, universal pharmacare program.
    I have a very simple question. Why is the Bloc Québécois refusing to listen to Quebeckers?

(1325)

    Mr. Speaker, I am not at all surprised by my colleague's question. Perhaps others have answered it, but I will answer again.
    I have listened to what the coalition of labour unions are saying. I understand that they want improvements to pharmacare in Quebec, but I will repeat that it is up to Quebeckers to do that. Yes, there can be a coalition. I understand that, but the fact remains that we have a National Assembly and that is the body that will make the decisions. It is the one in charge.
    Sometimes it seems as though Canada may do something worthwhile when it gets involved, and we think that something is going to happen. However, what I would say to my colleague is that there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip when it comes to this bill. There is a really long way to go. There is a committee that is going to meet and hold consultations.
    Quebec already has the experience and the expertise. Why not leave the task to a government that already knows how the system works? The federal government can tell Quebeckers that it wants to improve the pharmacare system, but as I said, we will discuss the matter among ourselves. However, the federal government can send us the money that it does not know how to spend because it is unable to take care of its own jurisdictions. We will improve the system.
    Quebec has said that it will improve its pharmacare program. I think that the question is irrelevant. I am really pleased that there are ways to exert pressure to help us make gains, but the federal government needs to talk to the ones who are in charge, the Quebec National Assembly and Quebec, when it comes to improving our pharmacare program.
    I do not need a paternalistic party telling Quebec what to do.
    Mr. Speaker, as my colleague has clearly demonstrated, Bill C‑64 is much more the expression of an election agreement than of a bill. Why? That would be because a bill of this scope would have required prior coordination, at least with the nation that put a system in place 30 years ago.
    Here in the House, the Quebec nation has been symbolically recognized on two occasions, but the moment that that has a legislative impact, it is out of the question. The National Assembly unanimously agreed that it wanted the right to opt out with full compensation to improve its plan. What is so hard to understand about that? My colleague clearly demonstrated that.
    The worst part is that, in addition to the first phase of the bill, the government intends to implement something with no accountability. Has anyone ever seen a Canadian prime minister lose their seat in an election because of health care? It has never happened. Why? Because health care has never been their jurisdiction. In Quebec, however, governments have fallen over health care.
    The government wants to meddle in the affairs of others, and with no political accountability, to boot. What does my colleague think about that?
    Mr. Speaker, it is as though my colleague from Montcalm can read my mind. Obviously, I agree with him. It makes perfect sense.
    I tried to bring up the election issue. I know that people may not always want to talk about it in the House, because everyone wants to be above the fray. However, at a certain point, we feel we need to point out some of the blind spots that others may not see. Sometimes we have to point out certain things that have been forgotten.
    I mentioned the National Assembly motion. That was in 2019. It has been on the table for a long time, since June 2019. Let us think about it. That was before the election that the Prime Minister called because he wanted to win a majority. That is not what happened. We have been discussing this for a long time. We are just not seeing it. I am not saying that there is not some merit behind it but, as far as I am concerned, it is almost purely electoral. Once again, we refuse to support it.

(1330)

    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois appears not to be answering the question. A vast coalition of two million Quebeckers told the Bloc Québécois to vote in favour of Bill C-64. Its members are critical of Quebec's existing plan.
    I am quoting them because it is important. I am referring to the Union des consommateurs, the Fédération interprofessionalle de la santé du Québec, the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, which, on behalf of two million Quebeckers, are calling on Bloc Québécois members, who are members for Quebec after all, to listen to them and take action by passing Bill C‑64, which the NDP introduced in Parliament.
    Let us be clear. I am quoting a coalition that the Bloc Québécois seems unwilling to listen to.
     We are asking the federal government not to give in to the provinces and territories that are asking for an unconditional right to opt out with full financial compensation.
    This coalition is saying that we need to pass Bill C‑64 and we need these negotiations.
    Why does the Bloc Québécois insist on blocking this bill and refuse to listen to Quebeckers who want it to pass?
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is actually the voice of the Quebec National Assembly. My colleague repeated his question, and I will repeat the answer. The Quebec National Assembly is made up of people elected from all parties. This is a unanimous motion supported by all parties, including Québec Solidaire. Everyone agrees that the answer is no, that we want to opt out with full compensation.
    I am an elected member of Parliament. I work for all of my constituents. I have a great deal of respect for the unions, and I would even say that I get along very well with them. I share the same values, namely solidarity and fairness. However, I am an elected official, so I represent the people. I do not just represent the interests of unions and other organizations.
    It makes me a little uncomfortable to see my colleague siding with organizations, no matter which ones, rather than the people. I am sure the unions will agree with me that they should be the ones to decide for elected officials. Of course, pressure tactics are needed. Let us talk. Discussions are needed, yes, but that can also happen in Quebec.
    I want to repeat the essential part my answer, so that it is clearly understood. I represent the Bloc Québécois and the people of Quebec through the National Assembly. That means everyone, and it is legitimate.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent for me to split my time with the member for Edmonton Strathcona.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Burnaby South.
    Mr. Speaker, today is a very historic day. The New Democrats have been fighting for universal pharmacare for generations. I think about Tommy Douglas. When he led the charge to bring in universal health care in Canada, it was always envisioned that medication coverage should be included. We are the only country in the world that has universal health care that does not also include medication coverage. Every other country figured out that if it could cover people's visits to the doctor but they could not afford the medication they needed, they would end up getting more and more sick and end up in emergency rooms.
    We know that the Liberals and Conservatives have opposed universal pharmacare whenever we have brought this idea up, but the New Democrats have not stopped. We know that the Liberals have promised pharmacare for 30 years and have broken that promise for 30 years, but we have not given up. We know that the Liberals and Conservatives have voted against this idea multiple times, but we have not given up. In committee, the Conservatives tried to block free birth control and free diabetes medication and devices, but we did not give up.
    Today we are joined by a number of allies from across the country, labour activists and health coalition activists, who have been fighting for this. I know that the legislation is not perfect, but the legislation would create the foundation for pharmacare in our country. The legislation would create the foundation to move forward with universal pharmacare for all Canadians, starting with free birth control and diabetes medication and devices.

(1335)

[Translation]

    As I was saying, I am very honoured to speak today because it is a truly historic day. Thanks to our party's work, thanks to the unions' work, thanks to the coalition of health advocates' work, we are in the process of passing a bill that will lay the foundation for a universal pharmacare program in Canada.
    The Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives are trying to block this bill, but we will not stop our work. We believe that Quebeckers deserve a program that covers all drug costs, starting with free access to contraceptives, as well as diabetes devices and medications. Thanks to the NDP and our allies, we are proud to say that this bill will pass today and that we will lay the foundation for a universal pharmacare program.

[English]

     One dollar was the price that the Canadian inventors of insulin sold the patent for because they believed that it was more important to save lives than it was to make a profit. Fast forward to today, and pharmaceutical companies are making thousands of dollars off the backs of Canadians to buy life-saving insulin. While big pharma is ripping off Canadians, it looks like Conservatives and Liberals, historically, have been taking their side. Now, we have the Liberals on side, and it looks like Conservatives are backing up big pharma that does not want Canadians to have access to free medication.
    Let us think about how much big pharma is ripping off Canadians just to have life-saving medication. I am concerned that Conservatives are not outraged that Canadians are having to spend money out-of-pocket to buy their medication. People are skipping meals so that they can afford their insulin. People are not taking medication and are becoming more and more sick. Everyone in this room should be angry about that. Pharmacare would save Canadians money and would save their lives.

[Translation]

    A few years ago, I met a young boy with diabetes. He was around 10 years old. I met him with his father and he shared his story with me. He told me that he had type 1 diabetes, a lifelong disease. He knew that if he did not take care of himself or was irresponsible, he might die. Despite all of that, he was not worried about his disease, but about the cost of the drugs. He was worried about that because those drugs cost his parents a lot of money. In a country as rich as ours, that makes no sense.
    While the Liberals and Conservatives focused on defending the interests of pharmaceutical companies, we in the NDP were fighting for this boy. We were fighting to help his parents have access to free diabetes drugs. What we in the NDP want is more money in people's pockets and less money in the coffers of big pharma.

[English]

     When I think about what free diabetes medication and devices will mean, I think about Scott and Rosemary. Scott is Rosemary's dad. Scott and his partner found out that their daughter, Rosemary, had type 1 diabetes at a year old. She had to be airlifted from New Brunswick to Halifax, and in the hospital, she received life-saving treatment. I remember Scott sharing with me how worried he was about his daughter and how that meant they had to make sure she got the medication and the equipment she needed. Rosemary needs a continuous blood monitor and a pump to stay healthy, to stay alive, and it is a cost for the family. It is something Scott and his partner have to worry about. However, they are not just worried about the cost of that, but also worried about what it means for Rosemary. When she grows up, she will always have to worry about affording this medication. It is not going to go away; it is a lifelong illness. They are worried that she might not make choices to pursue her dreams but that she might instead make choices to find the right job that has the right coverage so that she can stay alive, and they do not want her to worry about that.
     I asked Scott what it would mean for him and for his daughter Rosemary if we were able to make sure that she had free diabetes medication and devices. He said that it not only would mean lifting the pressure off him and his partner, as they would not have to worry about the cost, but also would mean that their daughter would have a brighter future. She would not have to worry about the cost of the medication and the devices she needs to stay alive. It would be life-changing for the family now and for the future. That is what we are fighting for.
    I think about Linda whom I met in Port Moody—Coquitlam. On the other end of the spectrum, Linda has lived her whole life with type 1 diabetes. She is retired now, but she was diagnosed in her 20s. She has had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years. She was going through her costs, and at many times in her life, she did not have the best coverage, so it probably cost her a lot more, but she did not have those records. However, as a retired person with some coverage and with some provincial programs available to her, she is spending about $3,000 a year for the medication and the devices she needs. For her, over a lifetime, she figures that, at a minimum, and it is probably a lot more, she has spent over $120,000 just to stay alive.
    Again, I think about people saying that this is not worth it. To Linda, it is worth it. To Rosemary, it is worth it. This would take away the pressure and the worry. It would mean that people would not be spending money out-of-pocket just to live.
    I will talk about what free birth control would mean. Again, this is to Conservatives who say that this does not matter, but to Linda and to Rosemary it matters. When we talk about free birth control, while the Liberals have been in power, access to birth control or access to the right to choose has gone down. It has become more and more difficult, particularly in the Atlantic provinces where clinics have shut down.
     We know that the right to choose is fundamental, but access to that right is just as fundamental, and we know that it has been more difficult. The Conservatives have been on a campaign to attack women's rights by bringing in motions that attack women's rights to choose, by supporting rallies that attack women's rights choose and by blocking free birth control. However, New Democrats have been very clear that we want to defend not only women's rights, but also access to those rights. It is fundamental to acknowledge that free birth control means reinforcing and strengthening the right to choose by giving more access to that right, which is fundamentally meaningful.
    I will close by thanking everyone who made this possible. A particular thanks to my health critics, both the previous health critic, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, and the current health critic, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. I thank all the health coalition activists and all the labour activists who made this possible today.
    It is a historic day for Canadians when we put the needs of Canadians ahead of big pharma. We say that Canadians deserve a health care system that truly covers them from head to toe, including universal pharmacare for all.

(1340)

     Mr. Speaker, I thank the leader of the NDP for his intervention today. More importantly, I thank him and our NDP colleagues for being adults in the room and for working with the government to bring forward meaningful legislation.
    Although I get laughs from across the way, we see this quite a bit, where it is NDP members who are actually helping to make meaningful changes. They have come to this chamber with the objective of improving the lives of Canadians, and I think that needs to be applauded, despite the fact that, in theory, it is what we are all supposed to be doing here.
    We have been hearing all day, and indeed, every time this debate has been going on, from Conservatives, that this would not have a big impact on Canadians, that it would not make a big difference because so many people are already covered and that what we are seeing through this legislation would not really do much for Canadians. I completely disagree with that. I would like to hear the leader of the NDP's thoughts on that.
     Mr. Speaker, although New Democrats always want to ensure that we are working toward improving the lives of people, we had to fight hard for this. This was not something that came on its own. We have to acknowledge that both Liberals and Conservatives initially voted against pharmacare when we first presented it. However, we were able to force the government to move forward now. In terms of the question, particularly the Conservatives' critique, I have given concrete stories about particular people who would directly benefit from this.
    When we think about the potential of this bill's massive impact, for birth control, nine million women in our country would receive access to free birth control. My colleague worked at a women's clinic, and on the days they provided access to contraceptives, or birth control, there would be lineups for hours. People waited to get access to that free birth control medication and ended up leaving, often without getting access, because there was so much demand. We know that with the cost of living as high as it is, this would be a meaningful reduction in the cost of living. It would save money for women who need access to this medication, and it would also provide them with meaningful access to choice.
     For the nearly four million people living with diabetes, this would fundamentally to save them money. People who have coverage often do not have complete coverage and still have to spend money out-of-pocket. Therefore, yes; this would save money and would save lives for millions of Canadians. It is meaningful, and I reject the Conservative claim that this would not be good for people.

(1345)

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the House recognized Quebec as a nation. Through a unanimous vote in its National Assembly, Quebec is calling for a right to opt out with full compensation to improve its own program, which it has been administering for 30 years.
    Does the leader of the NDP agree with the Quebec National Assembly?
    Mr. Speaker, the offer today is for all Canadians and all Quebeckers. We want to give them free contraceptives. That will really help women in Quebec. I know that this is going to be costly, but there is a great need for it.
    It is the same thing for diabetes medication. We want to provide free drugs and medical devices. That will help people in Quebec. What we want to do is work together with the provinces and Quebec. We want people in Quebec to get the same coverage as people in the rest of Canada. For me, it is unacceptable to have free diabetes medication in Ontario but not in Quebec. I will not accept a situation where Nova Scotians get free medication but Quebeckers do not.
    Here is what we want to do. We want to create a situation where everyone across the country has access to free medication. That includes Quebec.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, I know that the member's riding of Burnaby South is always near and dear to his heart. I wanted to ask, through you, about the impact of this important historic legislation on people like Amber in Burnaby. Amber pays $1,000 a month for a diabetes medication.
    How would this legislation help the member's constituents in Burnaby, like Amber?
     Mr. Speaker, on that great question from my colleague, it is important to point out that although the Conservatives and the pharmaceutical industry will mention there is coverage that people have, many people have coverage that requires a co-pay or that has a cap on how much is covered, and they have to spend money out-of-pocket. Having access to free diabetes medication and devices means it would be entirely free; it would cover that medication.
    When we think about the cost, if someone does not take the medication they need, they end up having worse outcomes and end up in an emergency room, and that costs all of us. It is not only a saving for that person, not only a saving for Amber, but also an improvement to the overall health care system if people can stay healthy and can prevent illnesses.
     Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge that today is the fifth anniversary of the National Inquiry of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Two-Spirit and Gender-Diverse People. We need to acknowledge today that the government is failing to address the genocide against indigenous people, and that is failing both indigenous people and all Canadians. I certainly hope that the government prioritizes those calls for justice, knowing that to date we have only achieved two of the 231 calls for justice.
    Today we are here to speak about Bill C-64. Today is, as my leader, the member for Burnaby South mentioned, historic. It is not just historic because of pharmacare. I do want give a shout-out to the Edmonton Oilers, who are now going to the Stanley Cup finals as of yesterday. It was a very big day.
    I also want to start by saying how grateful I am to our leader. Our leader, the member for Burnaby South, has been a strong advocate for pharmacare for years. Instead of just being an advocate, he rolled up his sleeves, got to work, worked with the Liberals and he forced the Liberals, against all their historic votes, to put this framework in place.
    I am so grateful to be a New Democrat today. I am so grateful to work with such a strong leader. I am also extraordinarily grateful to all the advocates who have done so much for decades to move this forward.
    I want to start by talking a little about one of my constituents, Pat. He came into my office, and he had a challenge. We are really proud of health care in Canada. Canadians should be proud of our public health care system. However, when Pat came into my office and talked to my team and I, he told us that he had been able to see a doctor and he had been referred to a specialist. The specialist was able to give him treatment. The problem was that the medication for his treatment cost $400, and he did not have that $400. While our health care system is a point of pride, thanks to the health care system that Tommy Douglas developed, Pat was able to get part way there, but he was unable to get the treatment that would actually help him. It was never supposed to be this way.
    When Tommy Douglas envisioned our health care system, pharmacare was always supposed to be part of that system. We know that Canada is the only country that has a medicare program that does not include pharmacare. It does not make any sense that we will treat Canadians to a certain point, but that we will not get them over the finish line without access to medication.
    Today is an opportunity to make pharmacare a reality for millions of Canadians and to lay the groundwork to create a fully universal pharmacare system for all Canadians. It is truly historic.
    Pat is not alone. A few months ago, I sat and listened to Albertans share their challenges and experiences at a pharmacare round table in Edmonton. One after another, Edmontonians stood up and they talked about how the lack of prescription coverage had affected their lives, how they had to juggle their bills and how they had to worry about groceries, utilities and rent, on top of their prescriptions. They had to make choices about which of those things they can afford.
     As members of Parliament, sitting in this place, every one of us has a health care plan that covers our medication. However, for so many Canadians who do not have that access, this is game-changing. This is the difference between paying their rent and taking care of their health at the same time.
    It was not just lower-income Canadians who were speaking out for pharmacare. Business leaders and health care professionals were all speaking about how important pharmacare was for them and why they wanted the government to move fast on this.
     I spoke to a paramedic who shared his experience providing emergency care and transportation to hospital for people who could not afford their prescriptions, people who would be doing well if they had taken their medications appropriately, if they had not thought about cutting their pills in half, if they had not thought about taking a pill every second day. Those decisions that people are making are impacting their health, which in the long run have large costs on our health care system as well.
     Doctors are so frustrated that their patients are not getting better because they cannot afford the treatment. Small business owners, despite paying more than minimum wage, can not possibly pay their employees enough in order to afford their medications.

(1350)

     A couple months ago, I sent out a mailer on pharmacare, as we all do in this place. I wanted to know what people in Edmonton thought about pharmacare. The response from constituents in Edmonton Strathcona was overwhelming. Ninety three per cent of people indicated that they were in favour of a universal pharmacare program and only 5% indicated that they were unsure or opposed. This mirrors national polls that put support for implementing a national pharmacare program to provide equal access to prescription drugs for everyone in Canada at 87%.
    Last year, an Alberta-wide poll found that 74% of Albertans supported universal pharmacare. As the president of the polling company noted, the overwhelming support in Alberta for a federal program like this was surprising. He said, “Getting three-quarters of a population to agree with any piece of public policy these days, it is a bit astounding. It's very popular in Alberta.” He added that approval of the idea largely crossed all demographics and all regions of the province. Canadians understand and they know that we must care for one another. We must take care of each other, and universal pharmacare is a promise to take care of each other.
    This legislation is not the end point; it is just the beginning but a very important beginning. We need the bill to create the mechanism for a full-fledged universal pharmacare system that covers all Canadians. No matter how young or how old, no matter where they live and no matter how they make their living, all Canadians have the right to prescription drug coverage, and this legislation is critical in getting it for them. The legislation is always going to be critical, but, right now, with coverage for contraceptives and diabetes medication, these two classes of drugs would impact millions of Canadians.
    For example, nearly four million Canadians are affected with diabetes, a disease that impacts every aspect of their lives. In my province of Alberta, individuals with diabetes have had to fight the provincial government repeatedly to ensure they get the care they need and deserve. The bill would means that people living with diabetes may finally be able to put those battles aside and finally have hope for their future. By treating diabetes with devices and supplies on the same terms as the prescription medication, this legislation would save diabetics hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year.
    With regard to contraceptives, we know the impact of contraception on women across the country and how vitally important this is. Manpreet Gill, the president of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association and associate professor in the division of General Clinical Medicine at the University of Alberta, has written about the importance of contraceptive coverage to health and especially health care in Alberta. Dr. Gill states:
     The cost of hormonal therapy (including for birth control) and intrauterine devices (IUDs) is a barrier for Albertan women to receive medically necessary care....
    It also perpetuates unfairness in the system, resulting in unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Universally available contraception would reduce the number of abortions, reduce economic stress on young and poor women and improve child and maternal health. It is estimated that 40 per cent of pregnancies in Canada are unplanned and it seems obvious that those who cannot afford contraception cannot afford to have a child.
    The current patchwork system in Alberta is blatantly unfair. First, it is obvious that birth-control costs are primarily borne by women while men bear no such equivalent costs....
    Secondly, while it is true that private plans cover birth control, it is worth considering two facts that this reveals. One, birth control reduces the costs to a private health plan, that’s why it is offered, and two, those that most [have that] need [are unable to] access...it.
    As a woman, as a mother and as a mother of a daughter, I want my daughter, and every daughter in our country, every daughter in this world, to have access to the entire range of reproductive health care, including contraceptives. A system that provides access to some, those who can afford care, while denying access to others is not a system that I can support. Reproductive health care is health care, period.
    Finally, I want to thank all the advocates across Canada who have worked so hard and so long to create this legislation. I want to thank Chris and the powerful advocates at Friends of Medicare in Alberta, who have worked not months, not years, but decades for this universal pharmacare. I want to thank the Canadian Labour Congress, the Alberta Federation of Labour and all the labour leaders, organizers and members across Canada who have put the needs of all Canadians, regardless of union membership, at the forefront of their campaigns for pharmacare.

(1355)

    We are here today because of the hard work of so many Canadians and so many leaders in our country. I continue to be delighted and honoured to work with all those leaders to ensure we get this over the finish line.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Canorient

    Mr. Speaker, it was my pleasure to attend the 50th anniversary reception of the Toronto Canorient association organized by Senator Andrew Cardozo. The organization traces its roots to the Canorient Christian Association, which was formed in Montreal in 1971.
    To serve the Christian community from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, a Toronto chapter, which became the Toronto Canorient association, was formed 50 years back. It has been actively serving its members since then.
     I would like place on record my appreciation for the late Tony Moscrop, who left a valuable legacy to the association in the form of the Canorient Community Centre. I would like to thank the members of the association, led by its president, Florence Suares, for travelling to Ottawa for the reception.

(1400)

Filipino Heritage Month

     Mr. Speaker, this June, communities across Canada are celebrating Filipino Heritage Month. Canada is proud to be the home of nearly one million Filipinos who enrich our social, cultural and economic fabric throughout our nation.
    Canadians have welcomed the shared Filipino values of family, faith and freedom for many generations and will do so for generations to come. The important relationship between Canada and the Philippines is strong. In fact, this year marks 75 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between Canada and the Philippines. During Filipino Heritage Month, Filipinos across Canada will celebrate this relationship and their heritage through delicious food, incredible art and vibrant music. On June 12, Filipinos will celebrate 126 years since their people rose up, demanded their freedom and secured their independence.
    As vice-chair of the Canada-Filipino interparliamentary group, it is an honour to wish Canadians a happy Filipino Heritage Month. Mabuhay.

Cheetahs for Change

     Mr. Speaker, today I rise to salute, for their big dream and optimistic outlook, the wonderful, passionate CPA High students who make up the Cheetahs for Change. Formed in 2020 with the guidance of their teacher Madame Yelena Smith, the Cheetahs' mission is to build a positive, inclusive culture at their school.
    They have done this by hosting guest speakers and organizing workshops about mental health, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia. They foster civic participation by holding Remembrance Day ceremonies and local election debates, both of which I have been honoured to join. In all they do, the Cheetahs emphasize students' commonalities over differences. Their motto is “I am because you are—because it takes a village.”
    I say thank you to all the Cheetahs.

[Translation]

     It is a great start to their future.

Entraide Agapè

    Mr. Speaker, for 40 years, Entraide Agapè has been a beacon for Beauport—Limoilou.
    What began as a soup kitchen in the basement of the Saint-Roch church in 1981 has, over the years, grown into one of the largest community organizations in Quebec City. Entraide Agapè helps vulnerable people get the food they need thanks to its food bank, while the second-hand store operates as a social economy enterprise to fund the food bank.
    I would like to commend the extraordinary dedication of Entraide Agapè's employees and volunteers, especially its general manager, Daniel Régimbal, who has been devoted to the cause for many years. Their ongoing commitment to supporting families and newcomers is inspiring and essential to our community.
    I thank them for making a positive difference in the lives of so many people. They are a real pillar in Beauport—Limoilou; they are truly outstanding.

Festa della Repubblica

    Mr. Speaker, the Festa della Repubblica, observed on June 2, is a symbol of the resilience, courage and self-determination of a people embarking on a new chapter of freedom and democracy.
    Shortly after the Italian Republic was formed in 1946, Canada opened bilateral relations with Italy, and the two became partners, working hand in hand within various multilateral institutions. Italian Canadians are a large and vibrant community, active in every aspect of our bilateral relations.
    Tomorrow, the Italian flag will be raised on Parliament Hill to mark this day and the powerful ties between Canada and Italy. I invite all my colleagues to join the Canada-Italy Interparliamentary Group and the Italian ambassador to Canada tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. in front of the Centennial Flame for the flag-raising ceremony marking the Festa della Repubblica.
     A domani mattina.

(1405)

[English]

Sam Young

    Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about Sam Young. He was passionate about golf, passionate about his family and passionate about his community. Sam had a lifelong passion for golf as a player, a coach and a builder. When he was done playing, Sam purchased a small nine-hole golf course in the town of Shelburne, which expanded to 18 holes. It is a beauty.
    Sam started a spectacular golf academy to teach young golfers. Over 30 young golfers got scholarships to the United States and went on to do tournament play. He was a role model to each and every one of them, and in 2018, Sam was inducted into the PGA of Canada Hall of Fame.
    He was also a community builder. He helped with many projects, like the restoration of the old Shelburne town hall, and so many organizations honoured him for volunteerism. I could not list them all, but here are a few: Hospice Dufferin, Canadian Cancer Society, Diabetes Canada and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
    I fondly recall many conversations with Sam. He had such wisdom to pass on. Sadly, Sam passed away. He will be missed, but it was a life well lived.

World Bicycle Day

    Mr. Speaker, please join me in wishing everyone a happy World Bicycle Day. It is a great chance to celebrate the joy and convenience of getting around by bicycle, but it is also an opportunity to highlight the need for safe streets for everyone. Our government created the first national active transportation strategy and fund. It is helping communities large and small to make streets safer for cyclists.
     I want to give a shout-out to Toronto's bike mayor, Lanrick Bennett Jr. He has done so much to raise awareness about the need for bike safety and to really talk up for everyone the ways that we can use cycling to get around, such as with cargo bikes. Recently I joined Lanrick on a bike bus with school kids, an opportunity to bring a big group of kids together to ride to school together.
    If anyone wants to enjoy a group bike ride to work, they can join on Wednesday, leaving from East Lynn Park at 7 a.m.
    Happy World Bicycle Day.

[Translation]

World Milk Day

    Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, June 1, we all celebrated World Milk Day.
    This day is an opportunity to recognize the thousands of families who get up every morning to produce quality milk for all Canadians. I especially want to thank the dairy farmers back home in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. Our dairy farmers are economic drivers for our rural communities. This sector employs nearly 200,000 workers and contributes more than $16.1 billion to Canada's GDP.
    Not only do our dairy farmers contribute significantly to our GDP, but they do so in an environmentally responsible manner. Our farmers have reduced their carbon footprint per litre by 24% since the 1990s, and their emissions in Canada are less than half of the global average footprint of a litre of milk.
    I commend their efforts. I thank our Canadian dairy farmers. Let us be proud to support them as we continue to celebrate World Milk Day.

[English]

Canadian Armed Forces Day

    Mr. Speaker, on Canadian Armed Forces Day, we express our gratitude for the bravery of those Canadians who serve our great nation and protect each and every one of us. We thank them and their families for the sacrifices they make for Canada.
    The efforts of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Navy have been recognized from Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach in the Atlantic to Kapyong and Panjwaii in the Indo-Pacific. Our soldiers, sailors and aircrew have always distinguished themselves through their courage, grit and integrity when deployed to conflicts around the world and during times of crisis right here at home.
    This year, we commemorate the Royal Canadian Air Force's 100th anniversary and celebrate the incredible contribution its members make to our safety every day. We thank them for their service and sacrifice over the past century.
    Today the forces are in a recruitment and retention crisis. The chief of the defence staff said that if we cannot attract the talent, we will not be able to protect Canada into the future. We must ensure that our forces are ready to meet any situation that threatens our peace, prosperity and security, by investing in the equipment they need and streamlining the recruitment process for today, tomorrow and our future.

Italian Heritage Month

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to recognize June as Italian Heritage Month. Canada is home to over 1.5 million people of Italian descent, one of the largest diasporas globally.
    I would like to take this time to acknowledge a tireless labour rights activist and author by the name of Marino Toppan. Marino is the creator behind the Italian fallen workers memorial project, established in 2016, which commemorates nearly 2,000 Italian workers who lost their lives on the job over a century ago. I thank Marino for all that he has done for the families of the Italian fallen workers.
    To all the Italian Canadians who have contributed to our wonderful country, including my husband and his family, I say grazie mille and happy Italian Heritage Month.

(1410)

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Bill Morneau, John Manley, David Dodge and even future Liberal leader Mark Carney all agree that our lack of economic growth is making Canadians poorer, and things just got worse. Statistics Canada revised Canada's GDP growth for Q4 from 1.0 to 0.1. Further, our GDP per capita fell again 0.7%, marking the eighth quarter of decline.
    While Canada is just barely avoiding a technical recession, Canadians themselves have been in the longest recession since the Great Depression. Canada's stagnating economy is having a devastating impact on Canadians. Food banks are overwhelmed. Students are living under bridges, and workers are living out of their cars.
    There is no denying it: After nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, it is not worth the cost.

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, today Conservatives will vote for our motion that calls on the government to axe the carbon tax, the fuel tax and the GST at the pumps this summer. After nine years of the “do as I say, not as I do”, high-carbon, hypocritical Prime Minister, fuel prices have surged by more than 50% in Canada. However, despite the historic cost of living crisis his tax-and-spend inflationary agenda caused, and even though 70% of Canadians and premiers want him to spike the hike, he will quadruple the carbon tax to make everything more expensive for all Canadians anyway.
    This year alone, the carbon tax will cost Alberta families nearly $3,000, while one in five Albertans is going hungry and 60,000 Alberta kids have to access food banks to survive. Since 2019, Alberta food bank use has skyrocketed by more than 73%.
    Conservatives will axe the carbon tax for all for good, because we know it is all economic pain and no environmental gain and is just not worth the cost. Until then, the NDP-Liberal costly coalition should support the common-sense option to give Canadians just a little bit of a break this summer.

Indigenous Affairs

     Mr. Speaker, June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. It is a month to celebrate indigenous culture and indigenous contributions to our country. As we celebrate National Indigenous History Month, all parliamentarians could indeed make history by sending the first nations clean water act to committee for study.
    Bill C-61 would recognize first nations' inherent right to water, ensure that there are minimum standards for first nations' clean water and protect first nations' water sources from pollution and contamination now and into the future. This historic and crucial legislation would ensure that first nations have the funding and self-determination to lay the groundwork for a water institution led by first nations.
    All Canadians would expect access to clean water. Surely on this, the first sitting week of National Indigenous History Month, parties from all sides of the House can agree to support first nations' need for clean water. Let us turn the page on this shameful legacy in Canadian history and give unanimous consent to get the important legislation to committee.

Pride Month

    Mr. Speaker, it is June, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast are celebrating Pride Month. In Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, people are off to a very festive start. This past weekend, Elliot Lake Pride kicked off Pride Month with a rainbow flag-raising, a karaoke night and a rainbow dinner.

[Translation]

    This is just the beginning of the season. The Conseil des arts de Hearst is presenting Cabaret Queer on June 7 with drag queen Mona de Grenoble.

[English]

     Pride Manitoulin kicks off on June 6, with a parade in Sheshegwaning First Nation on June 8. Espanola Pride's second pride weekend is on June 21, and the Pride Family Colour Run in Wawa is on June 29.
    I also want to take a moment to recognize my constituent Douglas Elliott, who has dedicated his life to the LGBTQ+ community and was instrumental in winning a legal battle against the government for its role in the LGBT purge. Douglas was on hand to break ground for the national LGBTQ+ Thunderhead monument last month.
    Wherever we may be, let our rainbow pride shine.

(1415)

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, last Thursday was the Canadian Open golf tournament in Hamilton.
    Clearly that Ontario town learned nothing from the last Grey Cup final and the heartfelt plea from Marc‑Antoine Dequoy. At the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, almost all the signage and ads were in English only.
    It goes beyond signs. For example, Quebec golfer Marc‑Olivier Plasse was introduced by the former president of Golf Québec in English only. A francophone introducing a francophone competitor in English must be some sort of joke.
    Golf Canada is the Canadian national sport federation for golf and therefore subject to the Official Languages Act. It receives subsidies from Quebeckers' money. They even received $15,000 specifically for official languages.
    Why the need for this constant reminder that the presence of French at the Canadian Open should be normal?

[English]

Stanley Cup Championship

     Mr. Speaker, it is a glorious day for hockey fans in Canada. The Edmonton Oilers are on the way to the Stanley Cup finals after sending the Dallas Stars packing.
    The spirit of the Oilers' fans was on full display last night with excitement, energy and atmosphere that resembled the cup run of 2006 and the successes of the Gretzky years.
    I think every Canadian can agree that the Stanley Cup deserves to be back in Canada. With McDavid, Draisaitl, Bouchard, Hyman and the rest of the team, we know the Oilers will axe the Panthers, build the power play, fix the Stanley Cup deficit and stop the pucks. I ask members to join me in cheering on the Oilers so we can bring Lord Stanley's cup back to the city of champions. The cup has been away too long. Let us bring it home.

Community Sport for All Initiative

    Mr. Speaker, our community sport for all initiative has delivered accessible, affordable, inclusive and life-changing sport, physical activity and recreational opportunities to Canadians. Today, I met with the leaders who made it all happen at an impact summit here on Parliament Hill.
    We partnered with national sport organizations, such as Wheelchair Basketball and Nordiq Canada; networks, such as PHE Canada, the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, and ParticipACTION; and charities, such as Spirit North, Right to Play and Jumpstart. Together, we have helped Canadians try new sports and activities.
    There are too many barriers between people and physical activity. Whether it is the cost, the anxiety about trying something new or simply not having transportation, the community sport for all initiative has successfully lowered those barriers for over one million participants. That is one million Canadians who have enhanced their physical literacy, met new friends, set some goals and had a lot of fun doing it.
    June is also national health and fitness month in Canada, which is a great opportunity for people to try a new activity or get back into one they have not done in a little while.
     Once again, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the sport leaders from across this country who deliver sport programming to Canadians of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. I thank them for keeping us all happy, moving and healthy.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Québécois is flipping his lid again because I quoted René Lévesque, and with good reason. Neither René Lévesque nor Lucien Bouchard, real sovereignists, would have voted to force Quebeckers to pay $500 billion more to grow the federal government. They would not have voted to hire an additional 100,000 federal public servants or to increase Quebeckers' taxes.
    Will the Prime Minister make the Bloc-Liberal coalition official?
    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers understand the importance of climate action. They understand the importance of a child care system and early childhood centres. They understand the importance of a government that can manage these programs.
    The only thing the Conservatives understand is cut, cut, cut. The Conservatives want to cut programs that Quebeckers need and they want reduce the number of public servants that are working for Quebeckers.

(1420)

    Mr. Speaker, we are going to cut taxes.
    It is odd that a so-called sovereignist party is okay with sending Quebeckers' money to Ottawa. Apparently, it does not believe that Quebeckers should have jurisdiction over their own wallets. This party actually votes for taxes. While we propose allowing Quebeckers to keep their money and decide what to do with it, the Bloc Québécois votes with the Liberal Party, its big boss.
    Why not give Quebeckers sole jurisdiction over their wallets by cutting taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers, the Quebec nation, understand the importance of a social safety net. They understand that a social safety net is built on social programs.
    Revenue is needed to create those programs. That is why Éric Girard has also decided to increase the capital gains inclusion rate.
    The Conservatives are against it because they are against the people.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, last week the health minister went into a wacko rant accusing parents who take their kids on a road trip of locking them up in a car for 10 days straight without a washroom break, causing the whole world to burn, and all because we proposed that the government take taxes off gas so that Canadians could have a summer break.
    Will the health minister break into the same hysteria over his boss's use of a gas-guzzling private jet to vacation all around the world?
    Mr. Speaker, we face an existential crisis in climate change. I was wrong, and I admit it. It is not 37,000 kilometres that they would have to drive. It would be 44,000 kilometres to get the benefit that the Conservatives are talking about. What the Conservatives want to do is not only cut dental care, child care and pharmacare, but also end our climate action and return to the days when the Conservative Party would go into climate conferences to attack the action the world was taking to save our planet. I will stand for climate change action and so will this party.
     Mr. Speaker, the minister's wacko math gets even worse. He is talking about vacations of 44,000 kilometres. Those are the vacations his boss takes in a taxpayer-funded, fuel-guzzling private jet. The vacations for which Conservatives want to give Canadians a break are to a local campground where they can support the local economy.
    We know Canadians cannot go abroad. All they can do is get in their small vehicle and have a small break. Why will the government not take the tax off so that Canadians can afford to do that?
    Mr. Speaker, it seems that we have, in fact, underestimated the wacko math of the Conservative Party of Canada. Sara Hastings-Simon, an associate professor at the University of Calgary faculty of science, crunched the alleged numbers of the Conservative Party. Based on the savings, and according to her calculation, someone would have to drive 44,000 kilometres, not 37,000 kilometres. Therefore, one could drive from the North Pole to the South Pole and back and they would have some kilometres left. These are the types of mathematics that these people are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, if that particular minister had his way, Canadians would not even be allowed to drive to the grocery store because he wants to abolish roads. He says we should not fund any more roads, and then he has the audacity to call other people wacko.
    Most Canadians do not want to put on an orange jumpsuit or climb a building. They just want to take their kids for a merciful break from this miserable, broken economy, so will the government accept our common-sense plan to take the tax off gas and diesel so Canadians can have a summer?

(1425)

     Mr. Speaker, one cannot, in fact, drive from the North Pole to the South Pole. There are no roads, let alone the fact that there are two oceans. I am sure the Conservatives will find ways to blame me for that.
    However, if one were to drive from Canada's most northern city accessible by road, Tuktoyaktuk, in the Northwest Territories, and then drove to the most southern city accessible by road, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, one would have to drive 16,000 kilometres. At an average speed of 100 kilometres an hour without stopping, that would take 160 hours, and one would only be halfway to the savings claim made by the Conservative Party of Canada.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, although the member for Alfred-Pellan has been criticized for suggesting the idea of promoting English as an official language of Quebec, he is not the first Liberal MP to come up with it.
    In fact, none other than the Prime Minister himself raised the matter back in 2016. At the time, he was objecting to the prospect of the city of Ottawa being designated bilingual because Gatineau, right next door in Quebec, was a unilingual French-language city. He opposed bilingualism for Franco-Ontarians unless Quebec stepped up and made English an official language. In fact, he had to apologize and admitted that he was being cheeky.
    Will he ask the member to do the same?
    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois's comments are very hypocritical.
    First of all, the action plan that we put forward to strengthen the French language was the most ambitious ever. The Bloc Québécois voted against it.
    In budget 2024, we are investing heavily to create substantive equality between the official languages. What did the Bloc Québécois do? Again, it voted no.
    The Bloc could at least have the courage to stand by its position and admit that it says one thing and does the opposite.
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to French, the Liberals are a horror show.
    It starts with the Prime Minister, who wanted to make Gatineau bilingual. Then there is the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, who thinks that people who worry about the decline of French are being extreme and are full of the s-word. Next, there is the member for Mount Royal, who said that it was a disgrace to apply Bill 101 to federally regulated businesses. On top of that, there is the member for Saint-Laurent, who thinks that Bill 96 will prevent anglophones from getting care. It is nonsense.
    Why are the Liberals systematically incapable of talking about the French language without going off the rails?
    Mr. Speaker, what is nonsense is my colleague's question. He voted against the official languages plan and he voted against the budget, in which we are investing money to defend English and French.
    Now, I am going to tell him something. Being a separatist does not him person more of a Quebecker than the Liberal members from Quebec, or even the Conservatives from Quebec.
    There are Quebeckers who are not sovereignists, but who are proud Quebeckers, proud francophones and anglophones who defend French and always will defend it, no matter what the Bloc Québécois does.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs

     Mr. Speaker, it has been five years since the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its 231 calls for justice. Only two are fully implemented, and the Liberals continue to ignore this ongoing genocide. Commissioners who led this inquiry are giving the government a failing grade. Rates of violence are up. Families are left looking for answers. It has been five years and things are getting worse.
    Will the Liberals stop stalling and implement the calls for justice to save lives now?
    Mr. Speaker, let me thank the member for Winnipeg Centre for her constant advocacy on this issue. Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit and gender-diverse people in Canada are 12 times more likely to go missing or be murdered compared to their non-indigenous counterparts. Urgent action is needed to improve safety, justice and dismantle systemic racism.
    Today we tabled the “2023-24 Federal Pathway Annual Progress Report”, noting funding for 52 community safety projects, nine safety plans, 47 shelters and a pilot red dress alert system. Progress includes better health services, expanded Internet for over 25,000 indigenous—

(1430)

    The hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona has the floor.

Foreign Affairs

     Mr. Speaker, despite promising to do so three months ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has failed to issue a notice to exporters telling them that they cannot sell weapons to Netanyahu's government. As Palestinians are starving, as violence in the West Bank escalates and as UN experts are calling for the recognition of Palestine, the Liberals will not act to stop a genocide. Peace requires action. Justice requires action: two-way arms embargo, sanctions on Netanyahu's war cabinet and recognition of Palestine.
    When will the minister stop speaking empty words and take action?
     Mr. Speaker, the situation in Gaza is absolutely catastrophic. That is why we need the violence to stop. We need an immediate ceasefire. That is why Canada fully supports the proposal by the President of the United States. We need to take a chance on peace.
    Along with our allies, we are following what my colleague just mentioned very closely, because our position has been clear when it comes to arms exports. We will make decisions accordingly.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the level of hypocrisy on that side of the House is nothing short of astonishing. The Prime Minister is literally jet-setting around the world on his gas-fuelled jet, while the health minister has said people should not go on a family trip because it will cause the planet to “burn”. We have the simplest common-sense motion right now that will save Ontario families $592. That might mean nothing to them, but it means a lot.
    Will the government listen, have some compassion and axe the tax so that families can make memories and enjoy their time together?
     Mr. Speaker, the savings that the Conservative Party of Canada is claiming are simply not true. Let me quote Dan McTeague, a former Liberal MP, but a vocal opponent to our policies, including carbon pricing, and no fan of mine, I might add. When asked about that proposal from the Conservative Party, he said that he was “in the wilderness” and that there was no way that the savings that the Conservatives were claiming were true, number one. He is at the head of Canadians for Affordable Energy. Number two, it would cost the government “billions of dollars” of taxpayers' money.
    When are the Conservatives going to stop that?
     Mr. Speaker, nobody believes a word that side of the House says. The Liberals have completely lost the trust of Canadians. They have caused chaos. They have caused crime. They have caused complete despair.
     People are using food banks at the highest record level they ever have in their life. Nobody believes what the Liberals are saying. Do members know what 35¢ a litre at the pumps would save? It would save the cost to ship food. It would allow people to actually feed their families. Most importantly, it would take off the stress that is creating mental health crises in this country.
    The Liberals stand over there and say that they will fight for this. Will they?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague led her question saying that nobody believes what anyone in the government has to say. It is not us who is saying it. One of the people who spent tens of thousands of dollars to take Conservative MPs on a junket to London to wine and dine them, so that they would be his mouthpiece in this chamber, is saying that he is lost “in the wilderness”.
    There are academics who have studied the Conservatives' proposal. The cost savings that the Conservatives say will accrue to families would mean one would have to go to the North Pole, to the South Pole and back in order to make that a reality.
    The member started her question talking about hypocrisy. I would remind her once again that she has been voting against measures and then showing up for the announcements about them in her riding.
     Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister loves to jet-set around the world on his luxury vacations but then stick the taxpayers with the bill. Meanwhile, the Liberal health minister is telling Canadians not to take a summer vacation or the planet will “burn”. This hypocrisy is ridiculous and it is just not true. Conservatives have a common-sense plan to axe all federal gas taxes until Labour Day, ensuring that Canadians can take their families on a summer vacation.
     Will the Liberal-NDP Prime Minister stop his hypocrisy, stop his radical policies and axe the tax so that Canadians can take their summer holiday?

(1435)

     Mr. Speaker, maybe it is the definition of a family road trip. For me, a family road trip is a few hundred kilometres. For the Conservatives, it's 44,000 kilometres in order to realize the benefit that they are selling. That is a pretty big difference.
     I will tell colleagues that while Conservatives spent last weekend trying to cut YouTube clips for Instagram or Facebook so that they could try to misrepresent an issue as important as climate change, I was talking to the seniors who they want to deny dental care to and I was talking to the people who need pharmacare. Of course, their focus is not on the facts, but in misrepresenting the issues.
     Mr. Speaker, here are the facts.
     I was at a senior's home in Claresholm this weekend. They are seeing their rent increased 5% to cover the cost of the carbon tax. This is forcing seniors to make very difficult choices, to either stay in their home, afford food or find other accommodations. Those are the facts.
     Common-sense Conservatives are putting forward a plan that would save 35¢ a litre for Canadians. This would save Alberta families $955 this summer.
    Will the out-of-touch Liberals support the common-sense Conservative plan to axe the tax so Canadians can take a well-deserved summer vacation with their family?
     Mr. Speaker, what is really hypocritical is running on Erin O'Toole's carbon tax plan and then doing a 180° pivot.
    However, let us talk about some stuff we can agree on. I think we all agree we want the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup, and we can all agree that Danielle Smith is a true-blue Conservative.
    How do the Conservatives reconcile that with the fact that she has raised the tax on gas by 13¢ a litre?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is a beautiful day out there. It puts parents in the mood to organize a vacation with the kids so they can enjoy some quality time together as a family. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister's inflationary spending, supported by the Bloc Québécois, means that 54% of them have had to change their plans because of the cost of living. People do not really want to pay more at the pump, as the radical Bloc wants them to. People want to pay less and enjoy life more.
    Will the Prime Minister help the 65% of Quebeckers who will be heading out on summer road trips and vote to suspend federal gas taxes for the summer, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives do not understand math. Perhaps I should try culture. Consider Isabelle Boulay's beautiful song, Entre Matane et Bâton Rouge, which is a distance of 2,800 kilometres. That takes about 30 hours by car. A person would have to drive from Matane to Bâton Rouge, then come back and drive there again, come back and drive there again, come back and drive there again, come back and drive there one more time, and that would be their vacation. They are talking nonsense.
    Mr. Speaker, because of this government's taxes, Quebeckers cannot even afford to drive to Matane.
    The Minister of Health completely missed the point when he tried to make kids feel guilty last week. He said, “there is good news for kids. They can take a summer fun-time vacation where they are locked in a car for 10 consecutive days non-stop, with no bathroom breaks.” Then he went on to say, “They can enjoy their 10 hours in the car and let the planet burn.”
    Instead of going after kids and parents, will the Prime Minister call his minister to order and vote in favour of our common-sense motion to suspend gas taxes for the summer?
    Mr. Speaker, to save as much money as the Conservative Party claims they would, a person would have to drive at least 320 hours over the summer. I do not know how much vacation time the Conservative Party thinks people have, but a person would have to drive 320 hours non-stop, without stopping to take bathroom breaks or to see the beautiful landscape. That is 320 hours of non-stop driving. What a bunch of nonsense.
    They are not good at math, nor are they good at culture, it seems.

(1440)

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, here we go again, having to talk about the Liberals' blunders when it comes to the French language.
    Last week, the member for Alfred-Pellan wanted to promote English to the status of an official language in Quebec. Obviously, he was criticized by the parties in the Quebec National Assembly. Even the Quebec Liberals described it as an attack on Robert Bourassa's legacy. In this Parliament, however, not a single Liberal has spoken out so far against what the member for Alfred-Pellan proposed.
    Silence means consent. Will someone finally stand up and put the member in his place?
    Mr. Speaker, I will say what we on this side of the House stand up for.
    We stand up for French. We stand up for bilingualism. We stand up for the anglophone minority in Quebec. We stand up for the francophone minority outside Quebec. We stand up for two strong official languages. We stand up to defend Quebec within Canada.
    All they think about is stirring up trouble, making sure that there are divisions to point at. They say they support official languages, but they vote against the action plan. They say they support official languages, but they vote against the budget. It is profoundly hypocritical.
    Mr. Speaker, there is not a penny more for French in his official languages action plan.
    There is only one francophone state in North America. Only one. However, that is one too many for the member for Alfred-Pellan, who wants us to make English an official language.
    I will say it again for those sitting at the back who have not yet understood: In order for Canada to be bilingual, Quebec needs to be French. I will repeat this too: There is only one official language that is at risk in Canada and Quebec, and that is French.
    Why do the Liberals always want to introduce more anglicization measures?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize that Quebec is a French province. We have always said that and we have always defended that. We will continue to defend the French fact.
    If my colleague had bothered to read the official languages action plan, then he would have seen that there is money there for French. If he had bothered to read the budget, then he might have understood that he is voting against things that he wants to defend.
    He needs to be consistent. Does he want more French? Then he should have voted in favour of the official languages action plan. Does he want more money for French? Then he should have voted in favour of the budget.
    Mr. Speaker, that is nonsense.
    Unfortunately, it will not be long before the member for Alfred-Pellan's wish to anglicize Quebec comes true. The Liberals are working on it already.
    The Office québécois de la langue française reports that the federal government is the worst employer in Quebec when it comes to the right to work primarily in French. Quebec's French language commissioner has proven that integrating immigrants into French-speaking society is impossible if the levels endorsed by Ottawa are maintained.
    The Liberals are already acting as if English is an official language. Could that be why they are defending their member for Alfred-Pellan?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows full well, with the modernization of the Official Languages Act, our government has made it abundantly clear that French is declining here in Canada.
    I come from Alberta. I studied in French at Campus Saint-Jean. Thanks to investments by the Government of Alberta, and thanks to official bilingualism across the country, I was able to study in the language of my choice, the language of Molière, in the right way.
    We are going to protect official language minority communities in every province and in every corner of the country, because French and English matter. Under the act, Quebec is a unilingual francophone nation.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister is planning his taxpayer-funded junkets to tropical Caribbean islands, last week, this health minister made the ludicrous statement that families enjoying road trips are somehow complicit in letting the “planet burn”. This is just another example of this government's golden rule: Do as I say, not as I do.
     Canada's Conservatives have presented an option: remove the tax on fuel so Canadians can afford to put fuel in their tanks and food on their tables. Will this Liberal-NDP Prime Minister come out of the ivory tower and please vote yes so Canadians can afford basics and maybe even a summer getaway?

(1445)

     Mr. Speaker, I have a really hard time believing that suddenly the Conservatives have an interest in doing what is best on behalf of Canadian families. If that were the case, they would have supported the Canada child benefit, which will be indexed to inflation next month, supporting Canadian families even more. They would have supported moving forward with early learning and child care at $10-a-day enabling more parents to get back to work. Their actions are not matching their words.
    Mr. Speaker, one in three Canadians can access the child care. The rhetoric needs to stop. Today, the government has an opportunity to vote for our common-sense Conservative motion to provide a temporary measure of relief for Canadians over the summer. It would help families, single parents, seniors, students and everyone in between. Pausing the tax on fuel would benefit all Canadians. In Ontario, this would mean the government would leave nearly $600 in the bank accounts of Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister vote in favour of the motion and allow Canadians to have a simple getaway, yes or no?
     Mr. Speaker, in terms of what we just heard, it is quite the contrary. We know that 750,000 Canadian families are now able to access affordable, inclusive, accessible child care through our child care plan. That translates into thousands of dollars of savings each and every year for Canadian families. We will continue to work with the provinces and territories to ensure more spaces are created, but this is how we help Canadian families.
    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, Canadians such as Tammy in my riding are being squeezed for every last penny. Families are paying hundreds of dollars every month on a tax plan that has not hit a single target. While Liberal ministers get chauffeured around town, they lecture Canadians and say the planet will burn if they drive to work or drive their kids to school.
    Will the Prime Minister quit exploiting families for trying to get by, cut the carbon tax catastrophe and vote for the common-sense Conservative plan to help Canadians this summer by axing the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, here are the facts: Albertans get the most back from the Canada carbon rebate, and there is a rural top-up that is going to double thanks to our budget. When we had a minor increase in the price on pollution this year, guess who increased the price of fuel by 13¢? It was the premier of the Province of Alberta, Danielle Smith. Guess what she did? She offered no rebate and zero dollars back.
    The Canada carbon rebate puts more money in the pockets of Albertans, while Danielle Smith and the Conservatives do absolutely nothing.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, the housing crisis is a source of stress for many people. There is a shortage of affordable houses and apartments. For years, Liberals and Conservatives have neglected truly affordable housing. Experts tell us that we could ease the burden by converting federal buildings into housing. That is a good idea, but people are still going to have to be able to afford the rent.
    Can the Liberals guarantee that 100% of available federal land and buildings will be devoted to social and affordable housing?
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank my colleague for his interest in building affordable housing.
    I share his concerns. That is why we created the housing accelerator fund, which includes an agreement with Quebec that will result in the construction of more than 8,000 affordable housing units.
    Also, we have an opportunity to use public land to create affordable housing. I look forward to working with my colleague to work out the details and build plenty of affordable housing across our country.

[English]

Grocery Industry

    Mr. Speaker, while a record number of families are turning to food banks, grocery CEOs have never been richer. The Liberals are not cracking down on the corporate greed driving up food prices. As for the Conservatives, they would not dare touch the profits of their CEO donors.
    Canadians deserve better. The NDP is giving the Liberals a chance to put an end to corporate greed by making rich CEOs pay what they owe so that we can invest that money back into Canadians.
    Will the Liberals vote in favour of our motion to make rich grocery CEOs pay what they owe?

(1450)

    Mr. Speaker, we all recognize in this country that families are having a hard time when it comes to groceries. That is why we have acted, with the Minister of Finance, to present to this nation the largest revamp of our competition law in the country.
    Guess who voted against it? The Conservatives did. They are the ones who are standing and saying they want to help families. If they want to do something to help us, they should stand with us in asking Costco and Walmart to sign the grocery code of conduct.
    That is the best way to bring fairness into this country. We will keep pushing, and I hope the Conservatives are going to join us in that endeavour.

Indigenous Affairs

     Mr. Speaker, today marks the fifth anniversary of the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples, a reminder of the deep-seated and systemic violence faced by indigenous peoples. It is a time not only to reflect on the past but also to assess our work towards meaningful change.
    Can the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations provide an update on the progress made in implementing the calls for justice?
     Mr. Speaker, I just came from the front lawn of Parliament Hill where I heard from Bridget Tolley. Her mother was stolen from her over 20 years ago, and she has been seeking justice ever since. This is the story of many indigenous families and survivors across this country. On this fifth anniversary of the national inquiry, we stand with people such as Bridget. While there is a lot of work to do, we will continue to ensure that each and every call to justice is fulfilled.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, never before has so much been spent to achieve so little. Despite a doubling of the national debt, today, Statistics Canada confirmed that GDP per capita has fallen again for the sixth time in seven quarters. Under the Prime Minister, Canadians have seen one of the steepest falls in the standard of living in our history.
    Why is the Prime Minister spending so much to make Canadians so poor?
     Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives just cannot resist talking Canada down. That is why we are not hearing from them about inflation being within the Bank of Canada's target range for four months in a row and, in April, the lowest it has been in three years, at 2.7%. That is why we are not hearing from them that, last year, Canada attracted the most foreign direct investment per capita in the entire G7. The other things we are not hearing about from them are all the programs they are going to cut, starting with the national school food program.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the Canadian standard of living is declining. In the United States, GDP per capita has grown more than 8% since 2019. Our economy is now underperforming the United States by the widest margin since 1965, while under the Prime Minister, the government has grown morbidly obese. More Canadians are visiting food banks than ever before. This is economic malpractice.
    Why is the Prime Minister spending so much to make Canadians so poor?
     Mr. Speaker, yet again, the Conservatives are relentlessly talking Canada down and concealing their austerity agenda. The reality is that Canada has added 1.3 million more jobs than we had before the pandemic. The Canadian economy is 104% the size it was before the pandemic, a rate of growth second, in the G7, only to the United States. We have preserved our AAA credit rating with a stable out—
     The hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.
    Mr. Speaker, the latest number from Stats Canada shows that, under the Liberal government, Canadians have seen one of the steepest falls in living standards in our country's history. This means that our quality of life has now dropped to the same level it was eight years ago, while the unemployment rate is up from last year. After nine years of the Liberal government, Canadians are worse off. They are working twice as hard to take in half as much. In fact, Canada's economy has stagnated and Liberal policy is to blame.
    Why is the Prime Minister spending so much to make Canadians so poor?

(1455)

     Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to hear the Conservatives talking down Canadians, Canada and our prospects. Around the world, people are talking about Canada. Do we know what? As my colleague said before, we have received the largest level of investment in our economy. Do we know why? It is because we have the best workers in the world, because we have renewable energy, because we have trade agreements with our G7 partners and because we know how to make things in this country.
    While they talk down Canada, on this side of the House, we will keep pumping up Canada, we will keep improving this country, and we will bring jobs in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are ruining the economy. Production of made-in-Canada goods and services has declined for the fourth straight quarter; the latest drop was by 0.7% in the first three months of this year. Canada remains last of 37 market-based countries that have not recovered from before the pandemic. In fact, Canada underperforms the American economy by the widest margin since 1965; sadly, Canada's economy continues to stagnate under the current Prime Minister's uncontrolled spending and punishing taxes.
    Why is the Prime Minister spending so much to make Canadians so poor?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to talk to representatives of the hundreds upon hundreds of Canadian companies that have come with me to many markets around the world where we have excellent trade agreements. They are taking their services, they are taking their goods, they are taking their innovations, they are taking their creations, and they are selling. Canadian companies are selling Canada around the world. Does the member know what they are doing by doing that? They are creating jobs from coast to coast to coast. We need to keep talking up the Canadian economy and Canadian businesses. We are doing that on this side of the House, and I want to know why you are not.
    I am certain the hon. minister was not referring to the Speaker, but I would encourage all members to ensure that the questions and answers are directed through the Chair.
    The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

[Translation]

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, the cost of natural disasters is going up every year with climate change. The question becomes whether it is up to taxpayers to foot the entire bill or whether those who are largely responsible should be asked to pay a portion of it.
    Vermont just adopted legislation to make the oil companies pay for climate change-related damages. Canada could take a page out of their book.
    Since the oil companies are the primary greenhouse gas emitters and since they are making record profits from polluting, why not force them to pay for climate change adaptation measures?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question and the fact that, unlike the Conservatives, she thinks that climate change is indeed a significant problem that we need to address.
    I would remind her that we are the only G7 country to have cut fossil fuel subsidies, two years ahead of schedule no less. We are the only ones to have done that.
    Just this morning, we announced a $530‑million fund with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to work with our communities across the country. This is going to help 1,400 municipalities across the country to deal with the consequences of climate change.
    Mr. Speaker, on one side of the border, we have Vermont, which is passing a law to force oil companies to pay for climate damage. On the other side of the border, we have the Liberals and the NPD, who again last week voted in favour of giving $30 billion in additional tax giveaways to those same oil companies.
    While Vermont wants to force oil companies to pay for the damage they are causing, Canada is rewarding them. I thought that the Liberals and the so-called environmentalists in the NDP supported the polluter pays principle.
    Why then, when it comes to oil companies, is it the “polluter paid” principle?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, over the past two years, we have implemented a clean fuel standard, something that the Conservatives promised to do the last time, but they flip-flopped again.
    We increased the price on pollution, something that the Conservatives promised to do, but they once again flip-flopped.
    We are capping greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector, and we are the only major oil-producing country in the world to do that.
    Our emissions are so low that the last time they were so low in Canada was just after the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.
    We have come a long way since then.

(1500)

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Liberal government, it is crisis after crisis.
    Two-thirds of Montreal's population see their city plagued by homelessness, drugs, street gangs and gun violence. This social disorder has been caused by the Bloc Québécois, which supported Bill C-5 so that criminals could be sent home rather than to prison. This is costing Quebeckers dearly in terms of security.
    When will this Prime Minister, backed by the Bloc Québécois, stop imposing misery on Quebeckers?
    Mr. Speaker, keeping Canadians informed is one of our basic responsibilities as politicians.
    I would remind members that just a few days ago, the Conservative leader told people in my region that the Canadian dental care plan does not exist. However, two million Canadians, including several thousand in the riding of my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, have registered for the Canadian dental care plan. Some 60% of Quebec suppliers are already registered.
    Today, we announced that children under 18 and persons with disabilities will also be able to register as of June 27.
    Mr. Speaker, Montrealers are fed up. They are finding used syringes on the doorsteps to their homes, their day cares and their businesses along with human waste on the ground. The reality of the Bloc-Liberal alliance is $500 billion in reckless spending that has contributed to this homelessness crisis. It is budget chaos and social chaos.
    Can this Prime Minister, backed by the Bloc Québécois, stop wasting Quebeckers' money so they can have a safe city again?
    Mr. Speaker, I am an MP from Montreal and I am very happy to see that my colleague is interested in what is happening there. I am the member for Hochelaga, where there is a homelessness crisis. We are working to address it every day.
    On our side of the House, we are putting in place programs that the Conservatives consistently vote against. If they really want to look after the most vulnerable people in our society, they can start by voting in favour of the programs we are putting forward.
    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this government, there can be no denying that the Prime Minister and the Bloc Québécois are not worth the cost.
    Violence in our prisons is getting worse and is spreading. An article in Le Quotidien newspaper reports that prison guards in Roberval are threatened and intimidated on a daily basis. Instead of protecting them, the Bloc Québécois is making the situation worse by fully supporting the Prime Minister's policies, which have caused chaos across the country.
    When will the Liberals, backed by the Bloc, listen to us and protect Canadians instead letting violence run rampant?
    Mr. Speaker, I will use the example raised by my colleague. Contrary to what he says, we are working with correctional services specifically to protect the safety of people who work in our correctional institutions.
    Along with my colleague, the hon. Minister of Public Services and Procurement, I had the privilege of visiting a model correctional institution precisely to talk with employees about improvements we can make to keep them safe at all times.
    I met with the union representing correctional officers. We are going to keep doing what is necessary.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives continue to deny the reality, but also the impact of climate change, and they have no plan to deal with this crisis, we are making the necessary investments to guarantee a green and prosperous future for our children and a healthy environment.
    Can the Minister of Environment tell us the exact nature of these investments that are going to protect our environment and guarantee a future for our children?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question, but also for her advocacy on these issues.
    Making our communities more sustainable and more resilient when it comes to climate change is a priority to our government to help plan the cities and communities of the future.
    That is why, this morning, together with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, we announced a $530‑million fund, the first fund in the history of Canada devoted to climate change adaptation and resilience. This fund will help serve 1,400 communities across the country to better prepare us and better prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change.

(1505)

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Auditor General will table her report on McKinsey. Now, the Liberals will try to hide their preferential treatment of McKinsey, but the procurement watchdog already said that the government creates criteria specifically designed for McKinsey. The Minister of Procurement also signed a $5.7-million sole-source contract, despite her officials asking her not to, for McKinsey.
    At a time when Canadians cannot even take a summer vacation, why is the government so hell-bent on giving $116 million to McKinsey?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to answer that question. My colleague is well aware that the Auditor General's work is not only very important, but very much appreciated by the Canadian government.
    We look forward to her report tomorrow, of course. We already know that it will continue to assist us further in the important work that we all need to do to ensure the proper and timely delivery of public services to Canadians, including the Canadian dental care plan, which is working very well across the country, especially in Quebec.

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, corruption, abuse, resignations, multiple investigations and at least $150 million tax dollars illegally given out by Liberal insiders to other Liberal insiders and to themselves, that is Sustainable Development Technology Canada. After nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, and the Prime Minister who is just not worth the cost, the Auditor General is set to release a damning report on SDTC tomorrow.
    Will the Prime Minister shut down the billion-dollar slush fund? Will he commit to getting Canadians their money back? Will he guarantee Canadians that none of these corrupt executives will get a dollar of severance?
    Mr. Speaker, as members well know, from the moment we received the allegation, we started an investigation in order to make sure that we would uncover the truth and that we would restore governance. We suspended funding for the organization. We got a report. The chairwoman resigned. The CEO of the organization resigned. We welcome the findings of the Auditor General. We proactively work with the Auditor General.
    One thing I can reassure all Canadians of is that we will restore governance and that we will restore funding to this organization that is helping thousands of Canadian companies in this country.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, first, the member for Saint-Laurent denied the decline of French in Quebec. Then, a Franco-Ontarian member said that witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Official Languages were full of you-know-what. Now, the Quebec member for Alfred-Pellan is saying that, in order to be stronger, Quebec should be bilingual.
    We are now seeing the Liberal caucus's true colours. The Liberals have neither the desire, nor the intention to protect French and stop its decline.
    Will the Prime Minister act now to support French in Quebec and call his members to order?
    Mr. Speaker, someone pinch me. I heard my colleague opposite comment on French. However, the Conservative Party and francophones from Quebec have accused me of speaking too much French here in the House. Now they are all up in arms.
    At some point, they need to decide which side they are really on.

[English]

Emergency Preparedness

     Mr. Speaker, as we have entered into June, and summer is just around the corner, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre has already reported that over 300,000 hectares of forest have been burned down. Climate change continues to impact communities in my home province of British Columbia and across Canada at a disproportional—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

(1510)

     I am having great trouble hearing, from both sides, the question from the hon. member for Richmond Centre.

[Translation]

    I encourage members who want to have conversations to do so behind the curtains.

[English]

    The hon. member for Richmond Centre has the floor. I will invite him to start from the top, please.
    Mr. Speaker, as we have entered into June, and summer is just around the corner, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre has already reported that over 300,000 hectares of forest have been burned down. Climate change continues to impact communities in my home province of British Columbia and across Canada at a disproportional rate. Drought and warmer-than-normal temperatures are persisting, fuelling the severity of wildfires and posing significant risks to our communities.
    Can the Minister of Emergency Preparedness share with Canadians what work our federal government is doing to help communities be better prepared?
     Mr. Speaker, extreme weather events are increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters, but often, I hear my colleagues across the floor downplay or even deny the reality of climate change and its effects on Canadians. They would rather claim that wildfires are caused by arson. Last year, 59% of Canada's wildfires were the result of lightning strikes. We owe it to the Canadians who were impacted and to the thousands who were already displaced this year to acknowledge the reality of climate change.
    Our government has invested more than $10 billion to help communities better prepare and adapt to climate change, and we are proudly continuing our work to limit our emissions.

Oil and Gas Industry

    Mr. Speaker, corporations should not be allowed to lie about the threats that are posed by their products, which is a no-brainer, unless of course we are talking about big oil. Last week, a front group for the oil and gas industry was found guilty of running a massive disinformation campaign on the supposed benefits of burning even more fossil fuels.
    The planet is on fire. People are getting sick, yet this Liberal government has never taken on the lies and the greenwashing of big oil. To the Minister of Environment, what is it going to take to end this massively funded disinformation campaign by the fossil fuel industry?
     Mr. Speaker, we obviously expect the highest level of governance from corporations that are operating in Canada. However, this gives me the opportunity to remind Canadians of the investments we have seen in the green supply chain in this country. As we said before, this country has received a record number of investments in the green industry. Even Bloomberg ranked Canada first in the world for the battery ecosystem, ahead of China.
    We should all be proud of these investments, which are generational. They are creating jobs. They are creating prosperity, and they are putting Canada ahead of every nation, when it comes to building EVs, in the world.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada sets the average processing times for applications.
    However, here is the reality. One of my constituents was begging my office to check the status of his visitor record application, which was submitted on March 4. The official told us that it was still being processed and that the average wait time was 77 days, which brought us to May 20. We called back on May 21 only to be told that the wait time was now 84 days, which meant May 27. We called back on May 28 only to be told that it would take until June 1, which is more than 89 days.
    How can the department operate with rules like that?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I will be pleased to pass it on to my colleague, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, so that he can answer our colleague.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Summer Tax Break  

    The House resumed from May 30 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:14 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for Carleton relating to the business of supply.
    Call in the members.
    Before the Clerk announced the results of the vote:

(1525)

    Mr. Speaker, if I am not mistaken, the member for Ajax voted, but we did not see his photo.
    His vote will be withdrawn.
    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 793)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Berthold
Bezan
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chambers
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Deltell
d'Entremont
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Hoback
Jeneroux
Jivani
Kelly
Khanna
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Lawrence
Lehoux
Leslie
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Maguire
Majumdar
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Patzer
Perkins
Poilievre
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 116


NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Ali
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bergeron
Bérubé
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Blanchette-Joncas
Blois
Boissonnault
Boulerice
Bradford
Brière
Brunelle-Duceppe
Cannings
Carr
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeBellefeuille
Desbiens
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Duclos
Duguid
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Gainey
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gill
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lambropoulos
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lemire
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Pauzé
Perron
Plamondon
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Rayes
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Sahota
Sajjan
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Sorbara
Sousa
Ste-Marie
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thompson
Trudeau
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 200


PAIRED

Members

Davidson
Desilets
Hepfner
Kayabaga
Lalonde
Paul-Hus
Petitpas Taylor
Richards
Sajjan
Trudel

Total: -- 10


    I declare the motion lost.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

     Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 14 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Status of Women  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee of the Status of Women, entitled “Supporting Women's Economic Empowerment in Canada”.

[Translation]

    I would like to thank all the witnesses who contributed to this study.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

(1530)

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present the dissenting report that the Conservatives are tabling on behalf of what we call the “Supporting Women's Economic Empowerment in Canada” study done in the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
    This is a seven-page dissenting report that we feel is important to put forward, because some of these points were not covered well in the study. There are four main points that we have put into the dissenting report, because one of the key messages that was overlooked throughout this study was the access to affordable, quality child care.
     In 2021, when the Government of Canada rolled out its national early learning and child care program, one of the fundamental pillars it presented was making it easier for women to return to the labour force. However, as we heard continuously throughout testimony during this study, it is quite the contrary.
    Here is what we heard throughout the study. Women entrepreneurs are being targeted for extinction with no room for private representation; child care operators are closing their doors; parents have lack of choice and face long wait lists; and women's participation in the labour force is declining.
    I will conclude with the following, “Canada's child care entrepreneurs are asking...whether they have a place in Canada's national child care program or a future in child care at all.” “It's to the detriment of all women that child care entrepreneurs are being targeted for extinction through the nationalization of Canada's child care sector.” Those are quotes from one of the witnesses, Andrea Hannen.

[Translation]

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in relation to Bill C-322, an act to develop a national framework to establish a school food program.
    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.
    I would like to remind hon. members that the taking of a deferred recorded division is scheduled for Wednesday, June 5, on the motion to concur in the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
    In its 23rd report, the committee requested an extension to consider Bill C‑322, an act to develop a national framework to establish a school food program. However, as the bill has been reported back from committee, a decision on the extension is no longer required.
    Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 94, the order for the recorded division is discharged and Motion No. 58 to concur in the report is withdrawn.

    (Motion withdrawn)

[English]

Government Operations and Estimates  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 20th report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, the mighty OGGO, entitled “Changeover of the Public Service Health Care Plan from Sun Life to Canada Life”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are submitting a supplementary report to this Canada Life study. We certainly support the ideas, as mentioned in the main report, relative to comparable rates for physio. These comparisons, of course, should be done when a new plan is being revised and implemented. As well, there is the necessity to deliver service in both official languages.
    We would also like to add the two points of Canada Life evaluating compensation, not the government, for those who have been wronged by the implementation of this new plan, as well as the discrimination against seniors, those who were unable to use the application in an electronic format and who would prefer to use a paper format. All these ideas, and more, can be found in our supplementary report.

(1535)

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I need to seek unanimous consent to table a supplementary opinion to the report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.
     The Speaker: The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    Mr. Speaker, the supplementary opinion points out that the federal government is unable to properly manage the files under its own jurisdiction, including Phoenix, passports, immigration and more. The Bloc Québécois is also making the following supplementary recommendation:
     That the federal government endeavour to pay its employees, provide them with the health care they are entitled to receive and properly manage its own files instead of engaging in open conflict with the provinces by refusing to provide the right to opt out with compensation, while increasingly interfering in their areas of jurisdiction.

[English]

Petitions

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition on behalf of constituents.
    I rise for the 40th time on behalf of the people of Swan River, Manitoba, to present a petition on the rising rate of crime. The community members of Swan River are demanding that their voices be heard. They live in crime and chaos caused by the Liberal government's soft-on-crime laws, like Bill C-5, which allows criminals to serve their sentences from home. In fact, Manitoba West district RCMP reported that in 18 months, just 15 individuals racked up over 200 charges.
    The people of Swan River are calling for jail, not bail, for violent repeat offenders. The people of Swan River demand that the Liberal government repeal its soft-on-crime policies, which directly threaten their livelihoods and their community. I support the good people of Swan River.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from residents of Langdon. There are seven thousand residents in this area and they do not have a post office. They need a post office. Canada Post does not have a post office in this community. The residents are redirected 30 kilometres away. In the wintertime for seniors, this is a very strong hardship. The people in Langdon need a post office. Canada Post needs to have a post office. According to their petition, the residents say that they need to have this done for this community.

[Translation]

Public Service Health Care Plan  

    Mr. Speaker, today in the House I would like to present a petition signed by 2,972 people across Canada listing the known problems with Canada Life and calling on the government to commit to resolving these deficiencies and to provide adequate services to all members of the public service.

[English]

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to present a petition where petitioners note, first of all, that scientific assessments have already underlined the mix of crises we are facing, including the climate crisis, biodiversity breakdown and resource depletion.
     The petitioners note that there is no legislation currently in international law with respect to ecocide. They note that ecocide legislation has been proposed in other jurisdictions already all around the world and that there are growing calls across the country from civil society and faith groups, among others, that are calling for ecocide as a new international law that would require an amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to include ecocide as a crime. Petitioners are calling on the House of Commons and this Parliament to publicly declare their support for the international crime of ecocide.

(1540)

Seniors  

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to present a petition today. The petition states that, whereas in 2018 the Canadian government announced an end-to-poverty plan that would affect all Canadians, the undersigned residents of Canada call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to review and amend the Old Age Security Act, so that low-income GIS benefits would be adjusted in ways that eliminate seniors poverty, including elimination of inequities that exist for those living in the same location, and include ways to provide added funds for those living in other locations where there exist higher living costs, as shown in Statistics Canada table 11-10-0066-01.

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of Hong Kongers who are resident in Canada. They are here on the lifeboat scheme, stream A and stream B. The petitioners note that there are 8,000 applications in backlog, and I believe that number is actually growing. The petitioners want to make sure the government is aware that this is a problem. The government is processing about 100 applications a month right now, so it will take years at this rate. The petitioners want to make sure that the government allocates additional admission targets to the Hong Kong pathway to effectively address the backlog.

Infrastructure  

    Mr. Speaker, petitioners in my riding are calling on the Government of Canada to provide additional funds to support the construction of the Lets'emot Regional Aquatic Centre in Agassiz. The name “Lets'emot” means “one heart, one mind” in the Halq’eme’ylem language.
     Residents of the District of Kent, Harrison Hot Springs, Seabird Island, the Cheam, Stó:lo, Sts'ailes, Sq'éwlets, Skawahlook, Popkum and Peters first nations, and the Fraser Valley Regional District's electoral areas C and D all support this project.
     It is one of the first infrastructure projects in Canada where all local indigenous communities are collaborating with municipalities. I humbly ask the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to support it.

Health Care  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to present another petition from health care workers, in particular nurses. The petitioners are highlighting the important role that nurses play, and they are looking at ways to encourage governments and political parties of all stripes to get involved in recognizing the need to ensure that nurses are supported, both financially and with other types of resources.
     One of the things that I would note is that there is one little side issue that the petitioners raise, and it is relevant to today, where they are talking about and recognizing the needs of seniors on fixed income for prescribed medicines and the need to deal with that issue too.
     Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of the National Indigenous History Month, there have been discussions among the parties and, if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion: that, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-61, an act respecting water, source water, drinking water, waste water and related infrastructure on first nation lands, be deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
    I already hear that there is no unanimous support for this motion.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    My point of order has to do with one of the usual practices of the House, the Thursday question and the weekly meeting of the parliamentary leaders.
    In both cases, the scenario for Bill C‑61 was to continue debate at second reading on Wednesday of this week. We agree to refer the bill to committee at the end of the day Wednesday after the debate.
    I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order, or usual practice of the House, Bill C‑61—
    Some hon. members: No.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable does not have consent.
    I would ask members to ensure that they have the unanimous consent of the House before moving their motion. Sometimes members may think they have consensus, but this needs to be negotiated in good faith before members rise in the House.

(1545)

[English]

Questions on the Order Paper

     Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 2558, 2560, 2564, 2572, 2574, 2575, 2578, 2579 and 2581.

[Text]

Question No. 2558—
Mr. Dave Epp:
    With regard to the final contract awarded by the government to the CIMA engineering firm by Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) for the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge: (a) what is the total value of the contract; (b) what were the determining factors of CIMA's submission being chosen over that of the Stanley Consultants engineering firm; (c) what are the details of all documents, including briefing notes, meeting minutes, draft documents, presentations, letters, contracts, agreements, communications, emails and recorded meetings regarding the hiring of Stanley Consultants, the dismissal of Stanley Consultants, and the hiring of CIMA; and (d) what are the details of all records, including documents and communications from April 2017 to April 2024, involving the (i) WDBA Board Chairs, (ii) employees of CIMA, (iii) employees of Stanley Consultants, (iv) WDBA Chief Executive Officer, (v) WDBA Chief Legal Officer, (vi) WDBA Chief Operations Officer, (vii) WDBA Chief Relations Officer, (viii) WDBA Chief Capital Officer, (ix) WDBA Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, (x) WDBA Associate Vice President and Chief Bridge Engineer?
Mr. Chris Bittle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the final contract awarded by the government to the CIMA engineering firm by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, WDBA, for the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, with respect to part (a), the total value of the contract is $10,774,981.00.
    With respect to part (b), WDBA is unable to respond as Stanley Consultants was not a bidder for the contract in question. We can, however, confirm that there was a technical and financial evaluation of all firms that bid on the project, resulting in a total score. The contract was awarded to CIMA as it had the highest total score.
    With respect to part (c), WDBA is unable to respond as it did not have a contractual relationship with Stanley Consultants. Further, proponents were advised that all documents and other records submitted in response to the request for proposals would be considered confidential.
    With respect to part (d), WDBA is unable to respond given the scope of this request. The information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database. It was concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
Question No. 2560—
Ms. Rachel Blaney:
    With regard to the Department of National Defence (DND) and existing contracts with IMP Aerospace & Defence (IMP) since fiscal year 2018-19: (a) what are the details of all contracts between the DND and IMP concerning servicing and maintaining search and rescue aircraft, including the (i) contract number, (ii) date of the contract, (iii) contract value, (iv) location of work being done, (v) date by which the contracted work will be completed, (vi) conditions on labour including sick leave requirements; (b) of the contracts in (a), which contracts include (i) minimum pay standards, (ii) minimum staffing requirements, (iii) policies regarding staff mobility, including moving expenses, (iv) limits on overtime hours worked; (c) what reporting requirements exist for IMP to ensure compliance with the contracts in (a); (d) what mechanisms does the DND have to ensure compliance with the contracts in (a); and (e) has the DND used any of the mechanisms in (d) to enforce compliance?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to parts (a) and (b), National Defence has one contract, W8475-00CSH1/001/BQ, with IMP Aerospace & Defence, IMP, related to the servicing and maintenance of search and rescue aircraft in the period specified. It is the CH-149 in-service support contract, related to the servicing and maintenance of the CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter fleet. The active period of this contract is from July 31, 2000, to March 31, 2030, with a total value of $3,022,748,607.05. Work related to the contract is conducted in Enfield, Nova Scotia; Greenwood, Nova Scotia; Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador; and Comox, British Columbia.
    National Defence does not hold details regarding IMP’s policies in relation to part (a)(vi) and part (b) of this question. All vendors and subcontractors for the Government of Canada agree to comply with its code of conduct for procurement. Section 8 of the code notes that the Government of Canada expects all vendors to guarantee workers’ labour and human rights in their main operations and their supply chains, including guarantees that wages are at or above the legal minimum and that workers can refuse overtime. IMP is also a federally regulated employer. It is subject to the Canada Labour Code, which includes provisions on wages and medical leave.
    In response to parts (c) to (e), the CH-149 in-service support contract includes both provisions and reporting requirements to ensure compliance. For example, the contract stipulates that the contractor must perform all inspections and tests to confirm compliance and keep records of these tests and inspections. All material is subject to verification, and National Defence holds regular program review meetings with the contractor to review, monitor, and execute the program. The contractor must also collaborate with a National Defence quality assurance representative to ensure compliance and quality assurance. There have been no instances where IMP has failed to adhere to the terms of the contract, and National Defence continues to utilize all reviewing and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance.
Question No. 2564—
Mr. Gary Vidal:
    With regard to the new reporting requirements for bare trusts introduced in January 2023: how many T3 Income Tax and Information Returns (T3 returns) including schedule 15 (Beneficial Ownership Information of a Trust) were filed for the 2023 tax year?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above-noted question, what follows is the response from the CRA as of April 16, 2024, that is, the date of the question.
    The CRA has received a total of 44,034 bare trust returns from January 1, 2024 to April 16, 2024 for the 2023 tax year. The CRA has processed a total of 37,593 bare trust returns containing a schedule 15, beneficial ownership information of a trust.
    Please note that as tax filing season is still in progress as of the date of the question, numbers may change over time.
Question No. 2572—
Mr. Dan Mazier:
    With regard to Parks Canada’s most recent update to their logo: (a) what were the expenses incurred, in total and broken down by type of expense; (b) what are the details of all contracts with external suppliers, consultants, and professional services related to the updated logo, including, for each, the (i) vendor, (ii) description of the goods and services provided, (iii) value or amount of the contract; (c) when did Parks Canada initially begin the process to update their logo; (d) on what date did Parks Canada submit their new logo to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office; and (e) what are all costs incurred by Parks Canada to replace previous logos, including a breakdown of the costs incurred at each location where the logo has been replaced?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the cost of registration of the mark with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office was $510 plus taxes, $526.29. There were no further expenses given the work was done in-house.
    In response to (b), all work was done in-house.
    In response to (c), work began in early 2021 because new technology started to allow new fabrication methods that eliminated the need for a dedicated signage version of the beaver logo. There had been two different logos used previously, one for signage, without cross-hatching on the tail, and one for other applications, with cross-hatching. By combining these two versions, Parks Canada would see savings in signage production and efficiencies in managing its graphic elements.
    The most noticeable change is the removal of cross-hatching on the beaver’s tail, which was previously present on the standard logo but not on the simplified version used for signage. Given that the cross-hatching on the tail does not reproduce well on small screens and embroidery, it has not been incorporated into the new, refined version of the logo.
    In response to (d), Parks Canada submitted to the Intellectual Property Office its registration request of the new beaver logo on May 29, 2023.
    In response to (e), the new beaver logo is being implemented gradually, for example after inventory of printed materials is liquidated or at the end of the regular lifecycle of products, to reduce waste and costs. Digital products, such as PowerPoint templates, social media avatars, letterhead, etc., were amended in-house.
Question No. 2574—
Mr. Philip Lawrence:
    With regard to the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities and the costs associated with its creation, as legislated in division II of the 2023 Fall Economic Statement: (a) what are the total costs incurred to date associated with the creation of the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by type of expense (office space renovation, new signage, branding costs, etc.); (c) what are the total annual costs associated with the ongoing operations of the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities; (d) how many employees work for the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities; (e) how many of the employees (i) are new government employees, (ii) were employed by Infrastructure Canada immediately prior to working for the newly formed department, (iii) were employed by a department other than Infrastructure Canada immediately prior to working for the newly formed department, broken down by previous department of employment; (f) as a result of the creation of the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, how many houses will be built (i) in 2026, (ii) by 2030; and (g) how will the government track and measure the progress and success of the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities?
Mr. Chris Bittle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities and the costs associated with its creation, as legislated in division II of the 2023 fall economic statement, with respect to parts (a) and (b), there will be no incremental costs incurred by the government as a result of the change proposed in division 11 of Bill C-59, Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023. The legislative changes will not impact the department’s current operations.
    With respect to parts (c), (d) and (e), for further information on Infrastructure Canada’s planned spending and human resources over the next three fiscal years, including during the proposed period of transition, please see the Infrastructure Canada 2024-25 departmental plan, at https://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/pub/dp-pm/2024-25/2024-dp-pm-eng.html.
    With respect to part (f), the Government of Canada is advancing a broad set of measures that will unlock millions of homes by 2031. These measures build on the significant action and results already achieved since 2017 through the national housing strategy.
    Upon the passage of Bill C-59, the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities will continue to assume a leadership role regarding housing policy and program development within the federal government. In partnership with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the department will keep building on existing initiatives and leverage programs to get more affordable housing options to more people.
    This includes the budget 2024 announcement of an additional $15 billion in new loan funding for the apartment construction loan program, bringing the program’s total to over $55 billion. This $55 billion, in turn, will contribute to the construction of over 131,000 new homes, with commitments in place by 2031-32. Similarly, the over $4-billion housing accelerator fund is helping municipalities cut red tape and, according to municipal action plans, is set to fast-track the construction of over 750,000 homes in the next decade.
    For progress reports on the 2017 national housing strategy and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s initiatives, please refer to https://www.placetocallhome.ca/progress-on-the-national-housing-strategy.
    With respect to part (g), following standard reporting processes for core federal departments, the Department of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities would be established during fiscal year 2024-25 and would publish its departmental results following the close of the fiscal year.
Question No. 2575—
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to expenditures on consultants by Parks Canada since November 4, 2015: (a) what is the total amount of expenditures incurred on consultants; (b) what are the details of all such contracts under object codes (i) 0431 (Scientific consultants), (ii) 0446 (Training consultants), (iii) 0473 (Information technology and telecommunications consultants), (iv) 0491 (Management consulting), (v) 0422 (Engineering consultants – Construction), (vi) 0423 (Engineering consultants – Other), (vii) 0301 (Advertising services), (viii) 0351 (Communications professional services not elsewhere specified), (ix) 0352 (Public relations services); and (c) what are the details of the contracts in (b), including the (i) amount, (ii) vendor, (iii) date of the contract, (iv) duration of the contract, (v) description of the services provided, (vi) reason or purpose of the contract?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, for part (a), the total amount of expenditures incurred on consultants from November 4, 2015, to April 17, 2024, represents $516,285,228.42. This amount excludes objects codes 0301, 0351 and 0352 as those include consultant expenditures as well as other expenditures.
    For parts (b) and (c), Parks Canada undertook a preliminary and broadly scoped search to determine the amount of information that would fall within the scope of the question and the amount of time that would be required to prepare a comprehensive response. This preliminary search identified a total of approximately 5,300 contracts which the agency would need to individually list in its response to this question. Parks Canada concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
    Please refer to the proactive disclosure website, https://search.open.canada.ca/contracts/, for contracting inquiries over $10,000.
Question No. 2578—
Mr. Jeremy Patzer:
    With regard to the government’s creation of the Sustainable Jobs Partnership Council, the Regional Energy and Resource Tables, and the Sustainable Jobs Secretariat, through Bill C-50, An Act respecting accountability, transparency and engagement to support the creation of sustainable jobs for workers and economic growth in a net-zero economy: (a) has the government made a list of potential candidates for the positions within each of these entities; (b) how many positions will there be within each of these entities, broken down by title of position; (c) are there qualifications required for an appointment to one of these entities, and, if so, what are they, broken down by position; (d) are there criteria which disqualify someone from receiving an appointment or serving their term, and, if so, what are they, broken down by position; and (e) what is the amount of compensation being provided for serving in each position?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, should Bill C-50 receive royal assent, it would create two bodies, the sustainable jobs secretariat and the sustainable jobs partnership council. The Department of Natural Resources would house the sustainable jobs secretariat, which would be staffed by public servants, whereas the sustainable jobs partnership council would be an external advice-giving body comprised of Governor in Council, GIC, appointees.
    The composition and number of positions for the sustainable jobs secretariat that would be created should Bill C-50 receive royal assent is under consideration; therefore, no information can be provided at this time.
    The regional energy and resource tables, regional tables, are an important initiative contributing to the government’s overall sustainable jobs approach; however, the initiative predates Bill C-50. Created in 2022, the regional tables are joint partnerships between the federal government and individual provinces and territories in collaboration with indigenous partners, and with input from key stakeholders, to identify and accelerate shared economic priorities for a low-carbon future in the energy and resource sectors. An important objective of the regional tables is to understand workforce implications and needs related to the global shift to net zero. As such, they will inform Canada’s approach to supporting workers and communities and creating sustainable jobs.
    With regard to the sustainable jobs partnership council, partnership council, that would be created should Bill C-50 receive royal assent, in response to (a), the government has not made a list of potential candidates for positions within the sustainable jobs partnership council. The government has implemented a Governor in Council appointment process that is open, transparent, and merit-based. Should the bill receive royal assent, a selection process following these principles would be launched. Information on Governor in Council appointments and selection processes is available at the following: https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/topics/appointments/governor-council.html.
    In response to (b), as of first reading in the Senate, the text of Bill C-50, available at https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/en/bill/44-1/C-50, would create up to 13 positions, including two co-chair positions and 11 members. The co-chairs will represent trade unions and industry, respectively. The member positions would be divided as follows: (i) three who represent trade unions; (ii) three who represent industry; (iii) three who represent indigenous peoples; (iv) one who represents an environmental non-government organization; and (v) one who represents another key stakeholder group.
    In response to (c), as of first reading in the Senate, the text of Bill C-50 would direct the minister to consider the importance of having members that reflect Canada’s diversity, including its regional diversity, and underrepresented groups, as well as the need for members who have knowledge, expertise or experience in at least one of the following areas: (i) the key sectors involved in the shift to a net-zero economy; (ii) the types of issues facing workers in the shift to a net-zero economy, including issues related to industrial change and technological transformation; (iii) the representation of unionized workers; (iv) the indigenous knowledge of indigenous peoples; (v) climate change and climate policy at the regional, national and international levels; (vi) economic and labour market analysis and forecasting; (vii) skills development, training and retraining initiatives at the regional and national levels; and (viii) the governance of advisory boards or committees.
    In response to (d), as indicated in the text of the proposed Bill C-50, the members of the partnership council would be subject to the provisions of the bill and the terms of reference for the partnership council that would be established by the responsible minister in consultation with the specified ministers. The terms of reference for the partnership council would be made public following passage of the bill. Additionally, the members of the partnership council, as GIC appointees, would be subject to the terms and conditions set out by PCO, which can be accessed at the following location: https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/programs/appointments/governor-council-appointments/compensation-terms-conditions-employment/terms-conditions.html.
    In response to (e), as indicated in the text of the proposed Bill C-50, remuneration for the members of the sustainable jobs partnership council would be fixed by the Governor in Council. The Privy Council Office’s remuneration guidelines for part-time GIC appointees in agencies, boards, and commissions provide information on how the GIC sets remuneration for part-time appointees and can be consulted at the following location: https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/programs/appointments/governor-council-appointments/compensation-terms-conditions-employment/remuneration-guidelines-agencies-boards-commissions.html.
Question No. 2579—
Mr. Scot Davidson:
    With regard to the carbon tax and reports that individuals and families living in provinces and locations without the federal carbon tax are receiving the Canada Carbon Rebate (CCR): (a) how many individuals and families with home addresses in Quebec received a CCR payment in (i) 2023, (ii) 2024, and what was the total amount paid out to those recipients; and (b) how many individuals and families with mailing addresses outside of Canada received a CCR payment in (i) 2023, (ii) 2024, and what was the total amount paid to those recipients?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above-noted question, what follows is the response from the CRA as of April 17, 2024, that is, the date of question.
    Information regarding the eligibility for the Canada carbon rebate, CCR, is available on the Government of Canada website: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/cai-payment/who-eligible.html.
    The occurrences noted below may happen when the address on file for an individual is within a CCR jurisdiction when the payment is calculated and subsequently changed to a Quebec or an international address afterwards.
    In response to part (a), in the 2023 calendar year, there were 2,490 individuals and families with home addresses in Quebec who received a Canada carbon rebate, CCR, payment, totaling $622,000; In the 2024 calendar year, there were 1,000 individuals and families with home addresses in Quebec who received a CCR payment, totaling $269,000.
    In response to part (b), in the 2023 calendar year, there were 4,310 individuals and families with mailing addresses outside of Canada who received a CCR payment, totaling $1,263,000. In the 2024 calendar year, there were 2,350 individuals and families with mailing addresses outside of Canada who received a CCR payment, totaling $532,000.
Question No. 2581—
Mr. Chris d'Entremont:
    With regard to Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan) 2016 Ministerial Review of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project: why does NRCan no longer have a record of (i) the presentations made to the review panel at the public engagement meetings, (ii) the notes taken at the public engagement meetings?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the 2016 ministerial review of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was carried out by an independent review panel. The report is publicly available on the NRCan website: https://www.canada.ca/en/campaign/trans-mountain/indigenous-engagement/what-weve-done/previous-public-engagement.html.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

     Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 2559, 2561 to 2563, 2565 to 2571, 2573, 2576, 2577, 2580, and 2582 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled in electronic format immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 2559—
Mr. Brian Masse:
    With regard to budget 2023 and the government’s action to crack down on junk fees: (a) what are the details of all consultations and meetings with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories on this subject, including the (i) date of the consultation, (ii) agency or officials consulted, (iii) outcomes of the consultation; (b) what indicators and targets does the government use to measure progress on cutting junk fees; and (c) what efforts have been done by the government to (i) set new NSF fee caps, (ii) enhance low-cost accounts, (iii) expand eligibility for no-cost accounts?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2561—
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to government contracts for services provided by a nutritionist or dietician and services provided by a pharmacist within all federal departments, broken down by fiscal year, since 2017-18: (a) what is the total number of contracts signed for (i) services provided by a nutritionist or dietician, (ii) services provided by a pharmacist; (b) what are the details of all contracts signed, including the (i) agency contracted, (ii) value of the contract, (iii) number of nutritionists, dieticians or pharmacists provided, (iv) duration of the contract; and (c) what is the total amount of extra costs incurred as a result of relying on contracted services instead of employing nutritionists, dieticians or pharmacists directly?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2562—
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to government contracts for occupational therapy and physiotherapy services provided by occupational therapists and physiotherapists within all federal departments, broken down by fiscal year, since 2017-18: (a) what is the total number of contracts signed; (b) what are the details of all contracts signed, including the (i) agency contracted, (ii) value of the contract, (iii) number of occupational therapists and physiotherapists provided, (iv) duration of the contract; and (c) what is the total amount of extra costs incurred as a result of relying on contracted services instead of employing occupational therapists and physiotherapists directly?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2563—
Mr. Gary Vidal:
    With regard to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), since 2015: (a) how many forensic audits (i) have been conducted, (ii) are currently ongoing; (b) which First Nations communities (i) have been audited, (ii) are in the process of a forensic audit; (c) what were the reasons for initiating each of the audits in (b); and (d) for each audit that has been completed, (i) which community was audited, (ii) what were the results, (iii) how can the public access the findings, including the website where they are available, (iv) what action, if any, did ISC take in response to the audit?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2565—
Mrs. Karen Vecchio:
    With regard to the eligibility review process of the Canada Child Benefit for shared custody arrangements: (a) what measures are being taken by the Government of Canada to verify the appropriate payment amount based on the percentage of time the child spends with each individual; (b) what guidelines are in place to prevent inequality between recipients; and (c) if completed, what were the findings of the Gender-based Analysis Plus?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2566—
Mrs. Karen Vecchio:
    With regard to the Canada Child Benefit: (a) how many recipients currently receive the Canada child benefit; (b) of the recipients in (a), what is the breakdown between (i) spouses or common-law partners who reside in the same home as the child, (ii) individuals in child custody arrangements; (c) of the recipients in (b)(ii), what is the breakdown of (i) individuals who about equally split the time spent with the child with another individual (between 40% and 60%), (ii) individuals who spent most of the time with the child (more than 60%), (iii) individuals who spent less of the time with the child (less than 60%), (iv) individuals who only spent a temporary period (e.g. summer period) with the child?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2567—
Mr. Warren Steinley:
    With regard to government information on energy use on Canadian farms from 2005 to 2023, broken down by year: how much energy in petajoules was sourced from (i) electricity, (ii) natural gas, (iii) motor gasoline, (iv) diesel fuel oil, (v) light fuel oil, (vi) kerosene, (vii) heavy fuel oil, (viii) propane, (ix) steam, (x) coal?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2568—
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to the appearance of the Deputy Minister of Public Service and Procurement Canada, Arianne Reza, at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on February 28, 2024: (a) what are the names of the 635 IT firms mentioned by the deputy minister; (b) which departments, agencies, and Crown corporations used the services of the 635 IT firms; (c) what is the total cost per contract awarded to the 635 IT firms; and (d) broken down by each department, agency, and Crown corporation that awarded contracts to the firms, what was the total (i) amount of expenditures, (ii) total number of contracts, with each firm, broken down by year since 2015?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2569—
Mr. Scot Davidson:
    With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency: in the "Residence Information" section of the T1 Income Tax and Benefit Return, how many taxpayers indicated that they had ceased to be a resident of Canada for income tax purposes by entering a departure date that was between January 1, 2015, and April 16, 2024, broken down by year and income bracket?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2570—
Mr. Scott Reid:
    With regard to the final report of the Minister of National Defence’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination: (a) how and to what extent have the findings in Part III, section 6, entitled “Re-Defining Chaplaincy”, been rejected, adopted, actioned, interpreted, or otherwise implemented; (b) how and to what extent has Part III, recommendation 6.1 been adopted, actioned, or otherwise implemented; (c) how and to what extent has Part III, recommendation 6.2 been adopted, actioned, or otherwise implemented; (d) how and to what extent has Part III, recommendation 6.3 been adopted, actioned, or otherwise implemented; (e) how and to what extent has Part III, recommendation 6.4 been adopted, actioned, or otherwise implemented; (f) what published policies, practices, instructions, or orders have been promulgated, amended, updated, or changed as a result of the findings, observations, and recommendations in Part III, section 6 of the report; (g) how and to what extent have decisions respecting hiring, promotion, evaluation, contracting, or termination in the Canadian Armed Forces been influenced by the findings, observations, and recommendations in Part III, section 6 of the report; (h) how and to what extent have decisions respecting hiring, promotion, evaluation, contracting, or termination in the Department of National Defence (DND) been influenced by the findings, observations, and recommendations in Part III, section 6 of the report; (i) how and to what extent has Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operational decision-making been influenced by the findings, observations, and recommendations in Part III, section 6 of the report; (j) how and to what extent has DND operational decision-making been influenced by the findings, observations, and recommendations in Part III, section 6 of the report; and (k) how has the composition of CAF chaplains changed since the publication of the report, broken down by number of chaplains and faith or spiritual affiliation of chaplains, as of the first day of January, April, July, and October of 2022 and 2023, and as of the first day of January and April 2024?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2571—
Mr. Alex Ruff:
    With regard to government security clearances as of April 1, 2024: (a) how many personnel have an active or currently valid security clearance from the Government of Canada, broken down by (i) institution, (ii) status of employment (e.g. employee, contractor, potential contractor, former employee, etc.), (iii) level of security clearance; (b) how long do Cabinet ministers and other individuals appointed to the King’s Privy Council have the security clearances described in the witness statement of the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs before the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions; (c) what process exists to routinely review the authority of Cabinet ministers and other individuals appointed to the King’s Privy Council to access classified information on a need to know basis; and (d) does the process in (c) require the same frequency of reviewing and updating that is in place for all other cleared personnel (i.e. five years for Top Secret, 10 years for Secret)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2573—
Mr. Blaine Calkins:
    With regard to agreements signed by Parks Canada to allow hunting or trapping within national parks or on Parks Canada land, since 2016: what are the details of each agreement, including, for each, the (i) date it was signed, (ii) names of the parties with whom the agreement was signed, (iii) summary of the terms of the agreement, (iv) start and end dates, (v) website where the agreement is made available to the public, (vi) animals and species permitted to be hunted or trapped?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2576—
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to operational investments by Parks Canada, broken down by national park, national marine conservation area, and national historic site: (a) what are the details of all capital projects or improvements currently ongoing, including, for each, the (i) costs incurred to date, (ii) project budget, (iii) project description, (iv) start date, (v) original estimated completion date, (vi) current estimated completion date, (vii) reason for the project delay, if applicable, (viii) location; (b) of the capital projects or improvements in (a), which are projected to exceed the original budget; and (c) for those projects in (b), what is the reason the original budget was exceeded?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2577—
Mr. Kevin Waugh:
    With regard to surveys commissioned by the Government of Canada since January 1, 2021, broken down by department or agency and by year: for each survey, (i) what was the purpose, (ii) what were all questions asked, (iii) what were the answers received, (iv) what costs were associated with the survey, in total and broken down by type of expense, (v) what external suppliers and consultants were used to commission the survey, (vi) what external suppliers and consultants were used to analyze and collect the results of the survey, (vii) how many responses were received for each survey, (viii) who did the survey target, (ix) was the survey available to all Canadians, and if not, who was able to respond to the survey?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2580—
Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus:
    With regard to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members based out of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier (CFB Valcartier), each year between 2016 and 2024: how many CAF members out of CFB Valcartier have been discharged, in total, and broken down by release category (voluntary, compulsory, medical, etc.) and by reason (service completed, misconduct, etc.)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 2582—
Mr. Tony Baldinelli:
    With regard to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which is administered by Export Development Canada: (a) what is the total number of loans and total capital (i) issued from the CEBA program since it was first launched on April 9, 2020, (ii) paid back in full by April 17, 2024, (iii) paid back in full by December 31, 2023, (iv) issued and refinanced before March 28, 2024, (v) repaid in full by March 28, 2024; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by province and territory; (c) for each province and territory in (b), what is the breakdown by each sector of the tourism industry, including (i) accommodation, (ii) transportation, (iii) food and beverage services, (iv) recreation and entertainment, (v) travel services; and (d) how many loans have been referred to collections as of April 17, 2024?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

Privilege

Response to Order Paper Question No. 2221—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised on May 8 by the member for Simcoe North, concerning the response to Question No. 2221.
    In his intervention, the member alleged that, through omission, the Minister of National Revenue misled the House. The member stated that he had asked for a specific set of information through Order Paper Question No. 2221, about overpayments of the Canada child benefit in the event of the death of a child. The corresponding response indicated that the information sought by the member was not collected in a way that permitted an answer to his very specific question. However, the member argued that he successfully obtained, through questioning of a government official at a recent committee meeting, the precise information that he had originally sought through his written question. This, he claimed, illustrated that the government did in fact have the information he wished to receive. He contended that the government attempted to frustrate his ability as a member to obtain factual information through the written question process. He argued that this qualified as a question of privilege that was worthy of examination by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

[Translation]

    The deputy government House leader countered that there was no intent to mislead the member for Simcoe-North or the House. He explained that the information shared with the member in committee differed from what was asked in question Q‑2221, which was about overpayments of the CCB in the case of a death of a child. However, he claimed that what the member asked in committee was a question about cancelled eligibility for the CCB. The government response that was provided to the written question addressed the issue of overpayments in the event of the death of a child, in as full a fashion as the data permitted. The deputy House leader concluded by asserting that the government answered the question that was asked, and that the response was accurate.
    House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 529, describes the well-established precedent in which the Chair, and past Speakers have consistently responded to complaints about government responses to written questions, and I quote:
    There are no provisions in the rules for the Speaker to review government responses to questions. Nonetheless, on several occasions, Members have raised questions of privilege in the House regarding the accuracy of information contained in responses to written questions; in none of these cases was the matter found to be a prima facie breach of privilege.

(1550)

[English]

     The member for Simcoe North knows, as do all members, that the Chair does not parse the responses to written questions, nor judge their quality or delve into their content. The government did provide an answer to its question, though the member argues it was insufficient or incomplete. The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa also complained about the substance of an answer to one of his written questions. While circumstances differed, the conclusion remains the same. The Chair is not empowered to review the content or the quality of answers provided to written questions.
    That said, the Chair would, once again, like to reiterate its expectation that the government, in responding to written questions, be as forthcoming as possible in providing members with the information they require to do their job. Members can always seek clarification about their original questions or ask for additional information by providing new written questions on the Order Paper or even by proposing to a committee that it study the subject of their written questions.
    Accordingly, the Chair does not find there to be a prima facie question of privilege. I thank all members for their attention.

[Translation]

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties, as you suggested earlier, and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:
     That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-61, An Act respecting water, source water, drinking water, wastewater and related infrastructure on First Nation lands, be called for debate at second reading on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, and at the conclusion of the time provided for Government Orders on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, Bill C-61 be deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    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)

     The Speaker: I would like to thank the hon. members for taking the time to negotiate in good faith behind the curtains.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Pharmacare Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-64, An Act respecting pharmacare, be read the third time and passed.
     Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak to such an important piece of legislation, our national pharmacare bill, Bill C-64, which was introduced by the member for Ajax, the minister responsible for health care. In my opinion, this particular legislation is a long time coming. When health care, what Canadians have become accustomed to in Canada, was first introduced many decades ago, I think that there was always an expectation that Canada would follow suit with a pharmacare piece of legislation.
    Indeed, it is my understanding that Canada is the only country in the world that has a health care plan that does not also have a pharmacare plan. I think that it is incredibly important that this piece of legislation is here. I have been listening to the debate over the last number of weeks regarding this particular bill, and I have found it quite interesting what I have heard in the House about it.
    For starters, I want to say that it is a piece of legislation that I see as a starting point. It is a point at which we can start to implement a national pharmacare plan, in particular to help some of the most vulnerable Canadians get access to medications they need. I will address that point in more detail in a moment. More importantly, this is a starting point in the sense that we will start by having two major medications that Canadians use, medications for diabetes and contraceptives for individuals who require them.
    I say that because I know that almost four million people in Canada are currently using medications for diabetes. This piece of legislation, even though it is only a starting point covering two specific medications, would certainly have an impact on so many people in our country. With the portion that is just for diabetes, that is nearly four million people on its own.
    Bill C-64 would establish a framework, and that is the important thing. It is a framework toward a national universal pharmacare plan in Canada for certain prescription drugs and related products, including free coverage of contraception and diabetes medication, as I have already mentioned. The bill would also provide that the Canadian drug agency work toward the development of a national formula to develop a national bulk purchasing strategy and support the publication of a pan-Canadian strategy regarding the appropriate use of prescription medications.
    I think that the part regarding the bulk purchasing strategy is so incredibly important because this is where Canadians would see the benefit of having a national pharmacare plan. The idea that we can, as a whole country, purchase medications in bulk would give us that purchasing power that I think is needed to be able to make the purchases at a fair price, a price point that we as Canadians will ultimately be paying for through our taxes.
    Finally, the last part of the bill is that, within 30 days of receiving royal assent, the minister would need to establish a committee of experts to make recommendations regarding the operation and financing of national universal single-payer pharmacare. The committee would be required to provide its report of recommendations to the minister no later than one year after the bill receives royal assent.
    As I indicated earlier, when one talks about a program that is this big and this complex, it is important to have that proper oversight and to have a committee of experts making recommendations to the government on how to proceed. When we talk about the number of people who would be impacted by this, I find the conversation in the House to be really interesting, and this is something I alluded to a few moments ago, because it would be a benefit that everybody would be covered under the program. The reason why I say that is that I think it is very easy to make comments, such as I have heard from Conservatives in particular, that so many people are already covered. There are already people who are covered under their private plans. I think about 80% of people are covered in one way or another.

(1555)

    However, not everybody is covered in the exact same way. For starters, at least 20% of people are not covered under any plan, and these would be the most vulnerable because these are people who would have to go to the drug store to pay for their medication out of pocket. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of people who are fully covered, and there are some really good plans out there. There are some really good employers. There are some really good institutions that provide plans to their employees and family members that are going to cover a lot, up to, in many cases, 100% of the cost of medication. Then, there is everything in between concerning what the coverage is and how much coverage there is. This is why it is so important that we talk about universal coverage. Sure, 80% of people might have some degree of coverage, but not everybody is covered the exact same way. I think it is extremely important that everybody has the same basic universal coverage.
     When we look at the way we are treated when we go into hospitals, everybody is treated the exact same way. At least, it is supposed to be this way, and it could be argued that provinces are setting up things differently. If we go into a hospital emergency room, we will see triage. The hospital will determine the critical nature of a person's visit, how quickly a person needs to be dealt with, and everybody is treated the exact same way. Most importantly, when we are done and when we leave the hospital, we just go home. There is no one asking for a credit card or a billing address. We have the luxury of having a health care system that covers everybody, which does not ask people to pay when they are in, quite frankly, what would be their most vulnerable state.
     I think one of the problems with my generation, and generations after mine and a few before, would be that the idea of having to pay for medical care seems almost foreign. It certainly does to me. I never think to myself, “Wow, I should go get this checked out, but what's it going to cost me to do that?” That is never something that enters my mind.
    Members can just imagine that, if I were living in the United States, for example, there would be a lot of people who actually have to make that choice. They say, “Well, I should get checked out, but what is it going to cost me to do that?” This is one of those luxuries that we have with a single universal health care system such that we have here in Canada. It is not something that enters our mind because I think we believe, as a society, that there is a certain onus to take care of each other when it comes to our health care, which is what our health care system provides, notwithstanding the fact that we could get particular about what different provinces are attempting to do now. However, that is the reality of the situation.
    When we talk about pharmacare and the drugs that we also need to be healthy, we have to ask ourselves why they are not treated the exact same way. What I see with the bill before us is an attempt to move in that direction.
    There are two very important, or at least very popular, medications that a lot of Canadians use to start with. This comes from the same premise that, when somebody needs to take care of diabetes, for example, or somebody wants access to contraceptive medication, they should not have to filter into the equation of the decision whether they would have to pay for it, for starters, as 20% of the population would, or how much of it they would have to pay for. They should not have to ask, “Do I have to pay for a portion of it? Does my coverage only cover 60%, and so I have to pay 40%? Does that make it worthwhile to do this?” Canadians should not have to think that perhaps they could go against their doctor's advice and not get the medication because they think they will be fine.
    These questions should not be asked by Canadians. There are a lot of seniors out there who rely on a lot of medications who should not have to say, “I have to make a decision between getting the medication I need or buying food.” They should not be making those choices, and they should not be saying that maybe they will only take half the dosage they have been prescribed because at least then they are still taking something but are not spending as much.

(1600)

     When we talk about health care and pharmacare, it is my position that it should be treated in the same way that we talk about health care and accessing care in terms of going to see a physician or going to the hospital. That is why I think the pharmacare bill is so important, because, as I said, it certainly does not cover every drug. It actually covers only two very important and widely used drugs, but it sets the framework for how things can evolve from here.
     One of the things I find really interesting, when we are having this discussion about universality and the fact that it is just two pieces of very important medication, is what I have been hearing from Conservatives to this point. They are getting upset over the fact that it would not cover a lot and a lot of people would not be covered. They are basically saying that more should be invested. I have heard the member from Battle River—Crowfoot talking about how we are not doing enough. Nonetheless, they will still vote against the bill.
    I cannot help but wonder why they are saying we need to do more, but then are against the idea fundamentally. I do not know whether Conservatives are doing what we have seen them do a number of times before, which is to start by talking about a piece of legislation and trying to critique it all day long, only to then vote in favour of it when the time comes, or whether they have a plan for universal pharmacare that is even more ambitious than this one. I find myself somewhere in between, trying to figure out what they are really trying to get at with this.
    At the end of the day, we know that this is something that would help Canadians. We know, and I strongly believe, that the concept of having a universal pharmacare system, in the long run to cover many more drugs, is certainly my goal. That would be to the great benefit of all Canadians.
     The legislation is a huge step forward in delivering better health care to Canadians. As I said, it lays out the plan for universal single-payer coverage for contraception and for diabetes medication. This would mean nine million women and gender-diverse Canadians all across the country could get access to the contraception and reproductive autonomy that they deserve.
     Notwithstanding the fact that lately we have heard some Conservatives start to talk and to reopen discussions about reproductive autonomy from decades ago, the reality is that we believe that when somebody makes choices about what to do with their body, in particular when it comes to reproductive aspects, they should be able to make those choices. A woman should be able to make those choices. In my opinion, the government should be there to support them in making whatever choice they think is the best for them as an individual.
    Although the piece of legislation before us, as I previously said, would not cover every medication, or a lot more medication as I would ultimately like to see, it certainly would be a starting point, a place to begin. It would be a place to lay the groundwork. It would be a place to engage the experts to provide feedback as to how we could move forward. It would allow us to start somewhere significant, given the number of Canadians it would affect, and then from there, to grow.
    I am really looking forward to the day when we can say that our pharmacare and the medications that Canadians depend on so much will be treated in the exact same manner that we see in the rest of our health care system, in particular when we go to visit a doctor or we have to go to an emergency room, as I described earlier.

(1605)

    I really hope Conservatives vote in favour of this at the end of the day, despite some of what I have been hearing. This is a great opportunity to show the country that the bill is not something we will make political and that it is something that truly would benefit many Canadians. It would help the 20% or so of people who might not have some degree of coverage. It would equalize the very well-off people with some of the most vulnerable in our communities by saying it does not matter what one's socio-economic status is and it does not matter what one's income level is. We respect the fact that all Canadians should have access to the medications they need so badly, and that their doctors, through our health care system, could provide it to them.
    Madam Speaker, the place to start with pharmacare should have been with the people who have no money to cover medication, and that is in the catastrophic category of people who need medication but cannot afford it because it is not worth a drug company's while to mass-manufacture the drug. That being said, we have experienced shortages in medication, particularly for diabetics, in the not-so-distant past.
    Given that there are so many people with diabetes and that it would be difficult to triage people on a one-on-one basis, how would the government decide who gets the medication and who does not, in the instance of a drug shortage? In other words, how would the government decide who lives and who dies?
    Madam Speaker, with respect to the first part of her question, the member should know that there is already a program in place that specifically deals with rare diseases and the drugs associated with them. That angle of it is actually already covered.
    With respect to her question about shortages, this is exactly why a national program like this, where we could purchase in bulk, makes sense. Companies that supply and that bid on bulk sales would know exactly what the demands would be based on what the government is asking for. They would also be helped to be able to produce the devices and drugs.
    It does not take somebody who has been in business a long time to understand that when they have a customer, such as a government that asks for a certain product, or they get into a contract to manufacture a certain product, they will have to start delivering that product. I think we would steer away from the shortage problems.

(1610)

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, at the beginning of his speech, the member said that it was important to have the expertise required and a committee of experts to analyze things. We do, in fact, have expertise in this area, and it is in Quebec.
    My question is simple. What is the problem with the decentralization of funds to Quebec, which could work fully in its own jurisdiction, in an area where it already has a system in place?
    It is important to remember that Quebec is ahead of Canada in these areas. That is the case in almost every social area. All of the parties recognize that. Why crush this system with something new when we already have a system that works and that could be improved upon? We have the same objectives and we agree on the basic premise. Why then does the federal government not want to transfer the amounts with no strings attached?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member asked what the problem with it is. The problem is that I want to learn from that expertise. He is saying that Quebec already knows everything so Quebec should just be left alone. I am saying that the whole point in bringing the experts together is to learn. I want the experts in Ontario to learn from the experts in Quebec, because I think that, yes, Quebec is very successful at a lot of things. If the member is correct in everything he is saying, the rest of Canada has a lot to learn. I am looking forward to that learning opportunity with the incredible experts who obviously exist in Quebec already, as per what the member just said.
    Madam Speaker, the member for Kingston and the Islands in his speech observed a unique Conservative critique that we have heard emerge. The Conservatives criticize policies as not being good enough, and then they vote against them entirely. If pharmacare is not perfect, the answer, in their minds, is no pharmacare whatsoever. If dental care excludes some Canadians, instead of amending or improving it, the answer is no dental care unless someone has private coverage. If Canada ranks 62nd out of 67 countries on climate change, then the answer is somehow to have no climate plan.
    What does the member make of this unique logic?
    Madam Speaker, I am glad that when I said that, the message got across. I was not exactly sure how to phrase it, but it is exactly what the member is saying. That is what we are seeing. The member for Battle River—Crowfoot said, in his 20-minute speech, that the system would not be a good one because it would not be for these people or those people, and that therefore we need no system.
    Conservatives do the same thing on just about every issue. I do not know why they are doing this. I wanted to ask the member for Battle River—Crowfoot, if he does not like the proposed pharmacare plan, to tell us about his pharmacare plan, because we know they do not have one.
    I just find it incredibly rich to continually hear Conservatives get up to talk down programs, almost implying that they would bring along an even better program. However, I think there is nobody in this room, and no Canadian who looks at this stuff objectively, who would think that Conservatives would be interested in a pharmacare plan, because we know they would not be.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about the fact that the program would be addressing two main elements, contraceptives and diabetes. I am thinking from the affordability angle and would like to hear his comments on that. We know when people are all of a sudden confronted with a huge expense or an unexpected, long-term expense what that can do to their budget. I would like to hear him comment on how the pharmacare program would help.
     Madam Speaker, the affordability aspect of it, I think, is really important. I do not think it really matters what one's economic background or economic status is, but if any Canadian were to go into a hospital and receive a bill afterward, any of us would be taken aback by that just because of the concept. I have friends who live in the United States. One gave birth recently and received a bill for $26,000. It is absolutely insane.
    The same logic has to apply to the medications we need. It is not even just about helping people with the costs; it is also about the investment. If we help people take care of themselves now, we are not going to have to pay as much when they end up in the hospital because they were not able to afford the medications they were prescribed.
    What the bill is really about, and what I tried to emphasize in my speech, is that there are varying levels of affordability right now. Some people, 20% or so, have absolutely no coverage. Some people have the platinum level of coverage where they do not have to pay anything. Then there is everybody else in between. Some people pay 60%, and some people pay 40%, 20%,10% or whatever it is depending on who is covering them. At the end of the day, in my opinion, the coverage needs to be universal, just like the coverage is universal when it comes to receiving health care from a physician or in a hospital.

(1615)

     Madam Speaker, normally we see a lot of fireworks back and forth from the member to our side, and we did not see that in this speech, which is appreciated.
     I have a straightforward question. I think it was brought up by my colleague from the Bloc. Health care is provincial jurisdiction. The provinces are mostly covering a lot of things for low-income people or those who are not covered. Alberta does the same for the items that are in the bill for birth control and diabetes.
    The question is this: Because the provinces are already doing that, why not just fund the provinces to allow them to expand their programs rather than creating a duplicate process federally?
    Madam Speaker, first of all, on the member's comment, I apologize if I was not on my game and did not give him the fiery speech he was expecting, I will work on that for next time.
    All I will say is that is a great suggestion. I am sure there is a really good answer to it and that committee could get down to it. I will say to the member that it is the first real question I have heard from that side that I have actually had to reflect on. I do not mind saying that maybe he has a good point. Let us have a debate on that rather than having a debate on the false narratives that are going on.
     I know the members of the Bloc would say that they asked me the same thing, but the point is this: I believe that it is just like health care as it relates to physician care or hospital care, which is something that is established by the federal government and the actual implementation is done by the provinces. Can universal pharmacare get to that place and what the member is suggesting? Yes, it might be the case that one day that is where we can get to, but the standard has to be the same across the entire country. That is the really important thing and what I fear might be lacking if we allowed what he suggested to happen.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Saskatoon West, or as we fondly know him, the member from Saskatoon West Edmonton Mall.
    I rise on Bill C-64, which is officially called an act respecting pharmacare. I have two other names for it. One is the proper Liberal name of the bill, which is “fake news to satisfy the gullible NDP caucus act,” and then the longer title is the NDP “I hope no one notices we said we would force an election unless we got a comprehensive and entirely public pharmacare program but sold out for little act.” I am being a bit sarcastic here, but this is the truth.
    The government has repeatedly stood in the House and said it is extensive pharmacare, but it is not. It is two items. The NDP members have constantly stood up with their colleagues across the way in the senior partnership, or the radical wing of the NDP, and said it is comprehensive pharmacare that is single pay. Despite what they would have one believe, it would just cover two items.
    It does potentially cover diabetes drugs and birth control, but we do not know the details. What it would not do is cover the chronic diseases Canadians are suffering from most. The top ones are hypertension, osteoarthritis, mood and anxiety disorders, osteoporosis, asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, cancer, dementia and, rounding out the top list, diabetes. Only one item would be covered out of the major chronic issues that are diseases or afflictions hurting Canadians. Where is the coverage for those? It is nowhere to be found, which is why the government and other people in the House should not be calling it a pharmacare act.
    The Liberals can name it a potential pharmacare act down the road, but they should not be misleading Canadians into believing that this is a pharmacare act. I asked where the coverage was for hypertension. Eight million Canadians suffer from this. Four million Canadians have osteoarthritis, two million have osteoporosis, and four million are suffering from asthma. How many of them would be covered by this so-called pharmacare act? The answer is zero. Two million Canadians are suffering from obstructive pulmonary disease. Not one would be covered. On ischemic heart disease, 2.4 million Canadians are suffering from this. Not one would be covered under this plan. Forty per cent of Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, with 250,000 new cases every year. Not one would be covered under this so-called pharmacare act. For dementia, 750,000 people are affected, and not one would be covered. Where is the coverage?
    I want to get back to my admittedly snarky comments about the NDP. I want to quote the National Post, which reads, “NDP members drew a line in the sand by passing an emergency resolution at their policy convention in Hamilton...that says the party should withdraw its support if the Liberals do not commit to ‘a universal, comprehensive and entirely public pharmacare program.’”
    If one looks up the word “comprehensive”, the definition is, “complete, including all or nearly all aspects of something”. Is this all or nearly all aspects of pharmaceuticals? No, of course it is not. Anne McGrath, the New Democratic Party's national director, “said getting a bill that has teeth will be her party's biggest priority as parliamentarians return to the House of Commons”.
    Canada has about 9,000 approved pharmaceutical drugs. The bill would cover maybe 200, so where are the other 8,800? Anne McGrath further stated, “Weak legislation is not going to be acceptable to New Democrats”. Maybe 200 for diabetes and birth control out of 9,000 seems to be acceptable.
    She said, “It has to be strong. It has to have teeth. And I feel like that resolution gave [the NDP leader] and the caucus a lot of bargaining power. It gives them a lot of strength.” I wonder when my colleagues in the NDP are going to be withdrawing their support. They probably will not.

(1620)

    One issue I brought up in an earlier question is that a large majority of Canadians are covered, but some are slipping through the cracks. Some are not covered, and some are only partially covered, but they are covered by the province. Alberta, for example, covers most of the items brought up. Essentially, B.C., Quebec and Ontario do as well. Pretty much every province, except one or two in Atlantic Canada, covers diabetes or birth control for low-income Canadians. However, they are not covering the other items of importance, such as hypertension and some of the others.
    The initial phase of this is going to cost about a billion and a half dollars. That money could be better used, by either giving it to the provinces for rounding out the services or, better yet, focusing on Canadians afflicted with rare diseases. A couple of families came to my office. Their young children were suffering from SMA, spinal muscular atrophy. It is a horrible disease. Generally, it is a death sentence by the time the child is two years of age. At about the time the children of these two families in Edmonton were diagnosed, a new drug had come out; it is called Spinraza. I have to give points to the pharmaceutical companies for how they come up with these names. Spinraza does not cure the disease, but it extends life to about 18 years old. Children would not have a great quality of life, but they could live to their late teens.
    When Spinraza came on the market, Rachel Notley's NDP was in power in Alberta. We went to the local MLAs in the NDP to see if we could speed up coverage for the drug in Alberta; however, the NDP refused to look at this. The same NDP that says it is a line in the sand that it will force an election over refused to help this family. When the provincial United Conservatives were elected, Tyler Shandro was the health minister. He was much maligned, and I am sure a lot of it was probably deserved. However, he managed to get Spinraza approved for the family within two weeks. It is a very expensive drug.
    Along came a better drug called Zolgensma. I truly believe it is a miracle drug. With Spinraza, children would spend about a month a year in intensive care, getting spinal taps and everything, for their treatment. Instead of that, Zolgensma is one shot in the arm. It seeks out the bad gene and copy-pastes the good gene over, basically stopping the disease in its track and giving the children a chance at a strong life. It would be about $45 million a year to treat everyone afflicted with this, everyone born every year in Canada. This is where the government should spend this money. It should focus on that.
    It should not be spending money to replace programs that already exist. About 60% of Canadians have a program delivered through work. Instead of subsidizing that 60%, it should look after people like this in need. These two families had to fundraise for this drug. Ryan Reynolds, who was in Deadpool, helped fundraise for these two families. Luckily enough, a corporate benefactor came through and provided for everyone in Canada. This is an example where that billion and a half dollars could be better spent.
    Another couple in my riding had a child suffering from PKU, which is a rare inherited disorder. It causes a buildup in amino acid in the body and prevents it from metabolizing protein. Children cannot have protein. It costs $5,000 a month out-of-pocket. The government should look after covering this.
    Twenty-seven million Canadians already have coverage through work. This Liberal single-payer plan is going to subsidize either the companies that are already paying for this or big pharma. It is funny that big pharma just got an extra tax for too much profit through the Liberal government, a temporary Canada recovery dividend to attack big pharma, which it is now going to subsidize. It could also subsidize companies directly, including Loblaws. At the same time as it is demonizing Loblaws in the House, it will end up subsidizing it. Therefore, I do not support the act as it is. There are better ways to do it than the way the Liberals and NDP are doing it.

(1625)

    Madam Speaker, I disagree with the member across the way, and the Conservative Party's approach in general, in terms of dealing with the issue of pharmacare. The member seems to be saying that we have all these medications that are out there and asking why we are limiting pharmacare to two. The short answer is that this is a very significant first step, and there is a substantial cost to it. The bill would ensure that we do not get a varying patchwork wherein the province in which one happens to live determines what kind of a fee one would actually be paying. We have literally 100-plus different types of plans out there, including public and private; I would suggest there might even be some non-profit stuff out there.
    Does the member not recognize the true value of moving forward on such an important issue as pharmacare and that one way he can do so is by supporting the legislation?

(1630)

    Madam Speaker, the reality is that a huge number of Canadians, the majority, are already covered by plans, either through the government or through their work. The government should be looking for and helping those who are slipping through the cracks or those who have no coverage or nearly no coverage. It should not be looking at subsidizing big corporations, so they do not have to provide it to their employees, or subsidizing big pharma for these things. It should look after those slipping through the cracks or those who have no coverage at all.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to follow up with my colleague about the question that I asked earlier and he repeated. It was about health transfers to the provinces and Quebec, which has the expertise in this area. I would like him to tell me how he interpreted the answer the member gave earlier, when he told me that Quebec has the expertise and that Canada wants to learn from that expertise. Meanwhile, the federal government wants to crush that system with a new pan-Canadian system they claim will have all the facts.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague from the Bloc.
    The provinces are responsible for health care. They are mostly providing that already. I look at Alberta: $2,400 for patients with diabetes currently regularly using insulin; $320 for diabetic medications for patients at high risk of hypoglycemia; $160 for medications for patients at low risk of hypoglycemia; and monies for pumps.
    The provinces are, by and large, already filling a lot of those gaps. The government, if it wishes to spend the money, should deliver the money to the provinces that are delivering the services so they can fill those last few gaps, rather than creating a whole new level of bureaucracy and potential problems. The government cannot pay its employees. It has messed up the Canada Life switch for public service pharmaceuticals. Somehow, I do not think the government is going to be able to cover 40 million Canadians with a new plan out of the blue.
     Madam Speaker, the Conservative member has been parroting talking points from the big pharmaceutical companies, and while he talks about the majority of Canadians already having coverage, people with diabetes who are covered are still spending thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for essential medication. Why does he not think those people deserve support?
    Madam Speaker, that is funny; I have not once parroted big pharma talking points. I did parrot the NDP, though, with a comment that it would force an election unless a comprehensive plan was delivered. Why is the member still propping up a government that promised a comprehensive plan but is just delivering two items?
     Madam Speaker, Liberals like to wrap themselves in the Canadian flag and proclaim themselves the great deliverers of health care in our country. It gets better. Allow me to read from former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin's 2004 election platform, which he infamously called a “fix for a generation”: “The priorities of a Liberal government begin with publicly funded, universally available health care. There is simply no other issue of such vital significance to Canadians. Liberals are proud of their founding role in making medicare a national priority.”
     That sounded pretty good. It continues on, stating, “The objective of a Liberal government will be to agree with provinces and territories on a national pharmaceuticals strategy by 2006.” I would say that was a fail. That was former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin's 2004 election platform: a “fix for a generation”. Needless to say, national pharmacare did not happen in 2006. In fact, it is a full 20 years, a full generation, later, and we have a health care system that has fallen apart under the current NDP-Liberal government in Ottawa. Having broken our publicly accessible universal primary care system, we now have a Liberal Prime Minister who is setting his eyes on taking a wrecking ball to yet another part of our health care system. Why? In this backward town we call Ottawa, where common sense goes to die, Liberal logic says that if it is not broken, they need to break it.
    What are the NDP-Liberals breaking today? It is the systematic dismantling of Canadians' access to their prescription drugs and treatments that are vital to their health. Just like 20 years ago, when that former Liberal prime minister brought disaster after disaster to primary health care, breaking it for a generation, if we follow our current NDP-Liberal Prime Minister down this path, our prescription drug system will forever be broken for generations to come. Rather than calling this a “fix for a generation”, I would say the fix is in.
    It is against this backdrop of our broken primary health care system that Canadians need to take a good, hard look at this legislation. Bill C-64, the so-called pharmacare bill in front of us today, is not what the NDP or the Liberals are advertising. It is neither the implementation of universal prescription drug coverage, nor will it improve the options for the two items it promises to cover: contraception and diabetes medications. Instead, it goes out of its way to destroy Canadians' already pre-existing insurance coverage, provincial drug plans and freedom of choice in medication when pursuing treatments.
     First, let us talk about federal-provincial relations. It is interventionist NDP-Liberal governments that use their control over the purse strings to force provinces into impossible decisions on patient care. Every time a premier tries to improve health care in their jurisdiction, the Liberal Prime Minister of the day will threaten to cut off health care funding to the province. Let us say a province wants to establish a few clinics offering MRIs outside of a hospital. To the Liberals, this is a mortal sin, and it cannot be allowed.
     Earlier this year, the federal Liberal Minister of Health fined my home province of Saskatchewan $1 million for allowing MRI clinics to operate in 2021. This was an innovative idea that increased the number of MRIs performed at a lower cost. It was brilliant, but not so fast. The NDP-Liberal government saw that as a mortal threat and fined the province. As these clinics are still functioning because they are common sense, we can expect the fines to continue. How ridiculous is that? The answer is as simple as it is sad. They actually do not want the system to get better. They do not want better outcomes for people. The NDP and the Liberals learned long ago that as long as the health care system is broken, they can campaign in elections as the great protectors and saviours of the system. Canadians are not going to fall for that again. Remember, this whole thing depends on the federal government convincing the provinces to go along with this scheme, something we already know the Liberals are not good at doing.
     Is this bill not doing something good? There is a second important thing to understand. This so-called pharmacare legislation will not bring universal prescription drug coverage to Canadians. Subsection 8(2) of the legislation, Bill C-64, under the heading “Discussions” says:
    The Minister must...initiate discussions...with the aim of continuing to work toward the implementation of national universal pharmacare.
     Let us break that down. What does the legislation require the minister to do? He must initiate discussions. That is fair enough. What do those discussions do? They have the aim of continuing to work towards a goal. Is that the big reveal? The minister is required to talk to some people to work towards an ideal. That sounds like every scam artist running a Ponzi scheme. Schmooze as many people as possible, and sell them on an idea that is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. This legislation is literally that: smoke and mirrors, conning Canadians into thinking there is a pot of prescription drug gold at the end of the rainbow.

(1635)

    It is not prescription drug gold at the end of this legislation. In fact, every single Canadian would be just that much poorer if and when this gets implemented because it is a direct attack on Canadians' private health insurance and drug coverage. Did members know that, according to The Globe and Mail, there are 102 government drug programs operating today, along with 113,000 private insurance programs? Statistics Canada reports that 79% of Canadians currently have health insurance that includes drug coverage.
     The completely independent Parliamentary Budget Officer analyzed how much it would cost Canadian taxpayers if universal pharmacare were implemented. Their analysis is that pharmacare would cost about $40 billion every year. More importantly, that would be about $13 billion more than is being spent today. Let us keep in mind that pharmacare would replace existing public and private drug plans. Generally, private health care plans have better coverage than public ones. That would leave most people worse off. Therefore, overnight, four out of five Canadians would lose the prescription drug coverage they have through their employer, union, school, spouse, parent or provincial government plan.
     The federal government is paying for it, which means we are paying for it through increased taxes. Either way we look at this, it would result in a multi-billion dollar spending increase paid for by us. Those who would really benefit from this are private companies who provide insurance to their employees because today the companies are paying for private drug insurance. Once this program kicks in, they could cancel those programs because the government would be paying for it. That would save those companies significant dollars. Essentially, it would be a transfer of dollars from the federal government directly to those companies, which is paid for by us.
     Of course, the NDP-Liberals always love increasing taxes on unsuspecting Canadians. The other thing they love doing is limiting our choices to fit their narrow world view. There are two classes of drugs that the NDP-Liberals choose to cover in this so-called pharmacare bill: contraception and diabetes medications.
     Let us talk about diabetes. Most people know that insulin is a shot given to diabetics to control their blood sugar levels, as needed. However, do people know that metformin is a prescription diabetes pill that is taken once or twice daily to help the body control its blood sugar properly, reducing the need for insulin? Do people know that metformin is prescribed commonly as a treatment for people before they have diabetes? With a daily treatment of metformin, that person may never develop diabetes, and that daily metformin is a dirt-cheap alternative to very expensive insulin. It keeps pre-diabetics from developing the disease, and it costs pennies, compared to insulin. Metformin is not covered.
    What about Ozempic? We have all heard of Ozempic as the wonder weight-loss drug, but that is simply a side effect of being a diabetes drug that acts on the pancreas to control blood sugar. We also know that the best way to avoid type 2 diabetes is to be a healthy weight and to not be obese. Ozempic does that, but Ozempic is among the most expensive drugs on the market at about $75 a dose. Ozempic and metformin are used to prevent the disease of diabetes. Does that mean the NDP-Liberals are purposely going to deny treatment to those folks to prevent them from developing diabetes and are going to wait until they get the full-blown disease? How is that fair? Should that not be a decision for the patient and the doctor, and not for some bureaucrat in Ottawa?
     Innovative Medicines did a comparison of the access of drugs covered by private insurance versus those in public plans. The results are as shocking as they are sad. In Canada, private insurance covers twice as many drugs as provincial plans do. The bottom line is that this bill, Bill C-64, proposes to take away people's private drug plan. That is what single-payer means. The result is that private companies and anyone else currently providing drug coverage in a benefit plan would cancel those plans and would force Canadians onto the government plan. Canadians would be stuck with a slimmed-down plan and would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for the rest.
    After nine years, it is clear that this NDP-Liberal government simply is not worth the cost to Canadians' health. It has broken our primary health care system, and now with this so-called pharmacare legislation, it is setting out to break prescription drug coverage for 80% of Canadians who already have private insurance.
     Conservatives will not stand idly by while the NDP-Liberals systematically break our country. If we form government, we would undertake the task to fix the immense damage this costly coalition has done. We would axe the tax. We would build the homes. We would fix the budget, and we would stop the crime. Let us bring it home.

(1640)

    Madam Speaker, it is concerning now. The Conservatives are trying to maybe do a bit of a backtrack, and they are saying that it is just not good enough. Depending on the depth of the speech, we will find that the Conservatives do not support public involvement at the national level, period. End of story. Let us realize that there are over 3.5 million people with diabetes. About 25% of them have reported that they are not taking all the medications they could or should be taking and that cost is a barrier. There are people with diabetes who will go blind and those who will have amputations. There are all sorts of issues. Why does the Conservative Party not support Canadians' receiving this particular benefit?
     Madam Speaker, we need to be very clear on what we are talking about here, which is a system that is proposing to blow up the existing network of private and public health care, pharmacare programs, of which 80% of Canadians already have coverage, at the expense of putting in a generic plan that everybody would have. As I said in my speech, many people would actually lose coverage. It would reduce what they could get.
    Certainly, there are people who are not covered, and I would agree that maybe there should be something to deal with those people. However, we should not have a single system that comes in and blows up everything to put in a universal, single-payer program. That makes no sense, and that is something I will not support.

(1645)

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we have already talked about the fact that Quebec has its own pharmacare plan and that the government refuses to include—
    Madam Speaker, am I disturbing my colleagues who are talking amongst themselves? May I ask my question?
    I would ask members to take their conversations outside. I am sure that hon. members want to listen to the question.
    The hon. member for Beauport-Limoilou.
    Thank you, Madam Speaker.
    As I was saying, Quebec has a pharmacare program that may not be perfect, but it is already in place and public servants are managing it.
    My question is this. Is it not completely illogical to force a province that already has everything it needs to take care of such a system to pay taxes so that the Canadian government can create other positions and duplicate services already offered to Quebeckers, without bringing them any more benefits?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that great question, and it gets to the core issue, too, of the incompetence of the Liberal government in dealing with provincial-federal relations. We already know that provinces, like the Province of Quebec and others, have said that they are not going to sign onto this program because they have their own programs or they have different ideas. That is also part of the problem. We are going to end up with a patchwork system across the country, as has been mentioned before.
    I have no confidence that the current government can actually pull off the negotiations with different provinces to put in a program like this, let alone the fact that it is not a program worth putting in.
     Madam Speaker, the Conservatives seem to fight against anything for women, whether it is menstrual hygiene products or, now, free contraception. This includes some of their backbenchers who are fighting against the right to access safe trauma-informed abortion care.
    Why are the Conservatives so anti-feminist and anti-women?
     Madam Speaker, I would ask the member questions of my own. The NDP members wanted a complete pharmacare program. This is nowhere near that.
    How can the NDP members support this? How can they support the government? How can they keep propping up the incompetent Liberal government?
    It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, Carbon Pricing; the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove, Mental Health and Addictions; and the hon. member for Victoria, Climate Change.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House. Happy Monday. I hope that we and our respective families are doing well. Before I begin, I wish to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre this evening.
     I am happy to speak today regarding Bill C-64, an act respecting pharmacare. It is another step for our government to make life more affordable for Canadians and provide the services that they need at this point in our term, and something that I am very proud of as a member of Parliament.
    Before I get into my formal remarks, this weekend I was reminded of the work we are doing in helping Canadians, including the wonderful residents that I have the privilege of representing in Vaughan—Woodbridge. Close to my constituency office is one of the regional roads in the city of Vaughan in York Region, Weston Road. Along Weston Road, there are three signs that are placed up by our local dentists, all accepting the Canadian dental care program. Much like what is contained in the contents of Bill C-64, an act respecting pharmacare, here we have another foundational piece that is assisting Canadians in my riding and across the country. We know that over two million seniors have been approved for the dental care plan, and that over 120,000 have actually visited dentists. I have had many conversations with the seniors in my riding over the weekend who have used the plan and are very happy about it.
    Along that vein, we are introducing a bill on pharmacare that will again help Canadians, 3.7 million of them, who have diabetes. We know that diabetes costs our health care system north of $30 billion a year. There are real savings in doing what we are doing and also taking preventative steps and providing contraceptives for Canadians.
    This bill sets out the principles that will guide our government's efforts to improve the accessibility and affordability of prescription medicines and support their appropriate use. It also underscores the importance of working together with provinces and territories to make national pharmacare a reality for Canadians. We can all agree that Canadians should have access to the right medicines at an affordable price regardless of where they live.
    That is what Bill C-64 does. It represents the first phase toward a national pharmacare, starting with the provision of universal single-payer coverage for a number of contraception and diabetes medications. This legislation is an important step forward to improve health equity, affordability and outcomes and has the potential of long-term savings to the health care system.
     In budget 2024, we announced $1.5 billion over five years to support the launch of national pharmacare and coverage for contraception and diabetes medications. I will highlight how important this is to Canadians and, specifically, how important access to contraceptives is to almost nine million women—

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     Some individuals are having conversations, and I think they seem to forget that they are in the House of Commons right now. Their voices are starting to rise a little bit. I would ask them to take their conversations out for now, because I am sure that others want to hear the speech so that they can ask questions.
    The hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge.
    Madam Speaker, I was just saying how important contraceptives are to nearly nine million women in this beautiful country we live in, nearly one-quarter of the Canadian population.
    Contraception, also known as birth control, is used to prevent pregnancy, whether it is required for family planning, medical treatment or overall reproductive health. Improved access to contraception improves equality, reduces the risk of unintended pregnancies and improves reproductive rights.
    The single most important barrier to accessing contraception in Canada is cost. For example, the typical cost for select contraceptives for an uninsured Canadian woman is up to $25 per unit, or $300 per year, for oral birth control pills, and up to $500 per unit for a hormonal IUD, which is effective for five years.
    Some populations are disproportionately affected by the lack of coverage. Women, people with low incomes and young people, all of whom are more likely to work in part-time or contract positions, often lack access to private coverage. One study found that women from lower-income households are more likely to use less effective contraceptive methods or no contraceptive method at all. Although most drug plans list a range of contraceptive products, unfortunately only a fraction of Canadians are eligible for prescription birth control at low or no cost through a public drug plan.
    Bill C-64 would ensure that Canadians have access to a comprehensive suite of contraceptive drugs and devices, because improved access to contraception improves health equality. This means that every woman would have the ability to choose a contraceptive that is best for her, regardless of her ability to pay. This would contribute to her right to have bodily autonomy, which is what this government fully and fundamentally supports.
    In addition, ensuring access to a comprehensive suite of contraceptive drugs and devices at no cost to the patient can lead to savings for the health care system. British Columbia implemented this policy at the provincial level last April, and studies from the University of British Columbia suggest that no-cost contraception has the potential to save the B.C. health care system approximately $27 million per year. In the first eight months of that policy being in place, more than 188,000 women have received free contraceptives.
    Sexual and reproductive health is a priority for this government. This is reflected in Bill C-64 but, as I have mentioned, it also goes beyond that to other significant federal initiatives. As part of budget 2021 and budget 2023, the Government of Canada has continued to demonstrate its commitment to improving access to sexual and reproductive health care support, information and services for Canadians who face the greatest barriers to access; and to generating knowledge about sexual and reproductive health for health care providers.
    Since 2021, the sexual and reproductive health fund has committed $36.1 million to community organizations to help make access to abortion, gender-affirming care and other sexual and reproductive health care information and services more accessible for underserved populations. An additional $16.7 million has been provided to the Province of Quebec.
    Budget 2023 renewed the sexual and reproductive health fund until 2026-27. This initiative has funded 21 projects and is currently funding 11. The sexual and reproductive health fund is providing $5.1 million to the University of British Columbia contraception and abortion research team for a 25-month project from March 17, 2023, to March 31, 2025, entitled the “Contraception and abortion research team access project, advancing access to abortion for under-served populations through tools for health professionals and people seeking care”.
    As a segment of the project centres on contraception, the project has partnered with the Canadian Pharmacists Association to develop educational resources that support pharmacists prescribing contraception and assist pharmacists in understanding and tailoring their approach for indigenous and racialized populations, including youth and other underserved populations.
    With the support of the University of Toronto youth wellness lab, the project will also engage with family planning professionals, for example pharmacists, family physicians, obstetricians, gynecologists, nurses, midwives and social workers, to optimally design affirming and judgment-free services and contraception information care by, with, and for youth. Additionally, the medical expense tax credit has been included to include more costs related to the use of reproductive technologies, making conception more affordable.
    In conclusion, our government is committed to improving the sexual and reproductive health of all Canadians. This includes helping to ensure access to a comprehensive suite of contraceptive drugs and devices for all Canadians. By working with provinces and territories, and guided by the principles within Bill C-64, we can make this a reality.

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    As we move forward, Liberals will continue to work with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders to ensure we get this right. The proposed Bill C-64 lays the groundwork for that process and would guide our collaboration. By passing this legislation, we could continue to build on the momentum we have already achieved. We are well on our way and I look forward to working with all parliamentarians to realize the next phase of Canadian health care.
    Whether it is dental care; the Canada child benefit; $10 day care and the national learning strategy; helping the almost 3.7 million individuals who have diabetes; or providing dental care for seniors, and now moving into another segment of the population, which I believe is individuals with disabilities, we are going to be there and have the backs of Canadians today and into the future.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we have said it before and we will say it again: Quebec is ahead of the game when it comes to pharmacare and many other areas.
    I would like to know whether my colleague is aware that in Quebec, a woman who has limited means and no insurance can go to a family planning clinic and get her birth control pills free of charge. Quebec is ahead in this area. It already has public servants working on pharmacare.
    Why not simply agree to a transfer and avoid duplicating the work of public servants for Quebeckers?
    Madam Speaker, it is very important to work with all of the provinces, including Quebec.
    Quebec was the first province in Canada to implement the early learning and child care program.

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    That was a model used nationally in Canada. We have much to learn when working with the provinces and that is what we continue to do. In this case, as identified by the member, if the Province of Quebec has gone down this path, I wish to applaud it and we will continue to work with all the provinces in our country.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way talks about working with Quebec. Alberta has quite an extensive plan for both diabetes and birth control, and other issues.
    Will the member commit to working with the Province of Alberta to give it the funding it needs to increase its programs, rather than creating a second program altogether?

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    Madam Speaker, the ultimate goal of putting in place measures, like the Canadian dental care plan, and coverage for contraceptives for women and for individuals who have diabetes right now, is to improve their health care outcomes. Of course, Liberals will always work with all provinces and sit down with them, but the ultimate goal has to be to improve the health care system and health outcomes for Canadians. We will continue doing that.
    Liberals will put in place the 10-year plan for $200 billion. We have come to agreements with all the provinces, if I am not mistaken. I will double-check that, but I am pretty sure we have. That is what we will continue to do as a government: work collaboratively and effectively for the benefit of all Canadians in this blessed country that we live in.
     Uqaqtittiji, when I spoke to this bill, I talked about the importance of Jordan's principle. Unfortunately, the need for it arose because there were jurisdictional disputes about who was to pay the cost of health care for Jordan River Anderson.
    I think what is trying to be done with the pharmacare act is to avoid similar scenarios, where people with diabetes, or women or gender-diverse people get the medication they need so their lives can improve.
    Can the member talk about why having such parallels is so important, so we are not fighting over jurisdiction and people get the care they need as soon as they can?
    Madam Speaker, my residents, like the residents of the member for Nunavut, do not care about jurisdiction. They care about the delivery of services, and the outcomes of those services that are provided to them and their families. We need to ensure we maintain a high standard of living, or, in this case, health care system.
    When I speak to the residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge, they want to know the government is providing the services that are needed, which are accessible and affordable, much like the Canadian dental care plan that we are putting in place. That is what we need to work toward and work with all levels of government on.
    In Ontario, there are actually four levels of government, including the regional government. We will continue to work with all levels in collaboration as mentioned by the member for Nunavut.
    Madam Speaker, it is such an honour to rise again to speak about the very important bill before us to put in place the beginnings of a pharmacare strategy, particularly as it relates to free contraception and diabetes medication.
    As the critic for women and gender equality, I want to focus my comments more on contraception and the fact that this is long overdue if we want to talk about reproductive rights and if we want to talk about creating societies that really, truly uphold equality for women and gender-diverse people. What I found bizarre during the debate is that so many men in this place have fought with such fury against women's reproductive rights. It almost feels like I am back in the 1800s, with the great interest by men in this place fighting against the rights of women over our bodily autonomy and reproductive rights.
    It is no surprise. The so-called freedom party, the Conservative Party, is certainly not free when it comes to people's bodily autonomy. I want to point to a couple of comments that were made quite recently. This was in the news today from when the Alberta Conservative member for Peace River—Westlock did an interview with a Liberal MP across the way. The Conservative member stressed that he supports Alberta Premier Danielle Smith's transgender policy that would vote to criminalize cannabis possession again if given the opportunity. Certainly with respect to bodily autonomy, he is supporting Danielle Smith. He also said, in regard to gay marriage, “I vote gay marriage down.”
     It is freedom for some and not for others. I have written articles about this, actually, about how Conservatives believe in freedom for some and not for others. I would say there is not much pride in that level of homophobia, when the Conservative member for Peace River—Westlock said, “I vote gay marriage down.” Happy Pride from folks in the House, except for members from the Conservative Party, who have come out with petitions not supporting trans rights. Again, it is another attack on bodily autonomy.
    Here we are, talking about women's reproductive rights, and there are a whole bunch of men in the Conservative Party fighting with great enthusiasm against our reproductive rights, against trans rights and against the rights of folks to have same-sex marriage. It is not just the member for Peace River—Westlock. In fact, the member from Carleton, the leader of the Conservative Party, voted against same-sex marriage in the 2000s and against backdoor anti-abortion legislation, Bill C-311 just in the last session, unanimously with all the Conservatives.
    When we are talking about freedom, we are not talking about freedom for women and gender-diverse persons to have control over their reproductive rights. When we talk about the transgender community, we are certainly not talking about freedom of bodily autonomy for the transgender community. In fact despite our saying “happy Pride” and raising the pride flag today, there are members of the Conservative Party saying, “I vote gay marriage down”, full stop.
    It is one thing for the Conservative leader to say “love is love” and that people can support whom they want, but when it came to Jordan Peterson, known for his anti-trans rhetoric, his homophobia, and his very clear views that violate the reproductive rights of women and gender-diverse people, he came out in full support of Jordan Peterson's agenda. Is that freedom? It is freedom for some and not for others.

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    The NDP has fought really hard to put in place a pharmacare plan that would include a suite of contraceptives so women and diverse-gender folks can have control over their body, over their livelihood and over their life. I know there are some men in the Conservative Party who want us to go back to the rhythm method. Thank God we have gotten past that to where people can make choices about their body, certainly women, and have control by taking things like birth control. I do not know many men who are running down the street begging for a birth control pill, so the fact they have taken so much time to obstruct a feminist agenda and a woman's right to choose is really telling to me. We cannot go back to that time.
    I hear more and more Conservative members tabling anti-trans petitions that have been put forward in the name of so-called protection of the bodily autonomy of women and girls. They table bills that include backdoor legislation in the name of being tough on crime for violent offenders, even though it is opposed by all women's organizations that actually deal with gender-based violence. They are now trying to vote against women and gender-diverse people's access to contraception.
    I have to ask this: Why do Conservatives hate women and gender-diverse people so much? Why are they so nosy about going into people's bedrooms? Why is there a thought in their head about who somebody should sleep with or whether somebody is gay or LGBTQ? Why does the so-called freedom party care so much about looking into everybody's bedrooms and finding out what they are doing, figuring out what contraception they are taking, whom they love or whether they want to have an abortion or not? There is nothing free about the party. It feels, actually, like we are going back into the 1800s.
    Then Conservatives make the excuse that it is “only” contraception or “only” diabetes medication, which is peculiar to me. It is not surprising that they would think that it is “only” contraception, because the only people I have actually heard talk about pharmacare are men. I could be wrong but I have been here for a lot of the debate. Why would they care about pharmacare? Why would they care about contraception when primarily it has been a women's responsibility historically to deal with contraception? If they want to run out at all hours of the night buying condoms, that is fine. Do they expect women and gender-diverse people to have no choice over their bodily autonomy or reproductive choices so that they can have the rhythm method? This is 2024.
    The fact is that, in the midst of Pride, we have to get more security at Pride marches because of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and people in the Conservative caucus are cheering on Roe v. Wade, which is not the only one as there are quite a number of social Conservatives, so that we can go back to the era when women were having back-alley abortions with coat hangers and bleeding to death, or 10-year-olds in the United States were having to give birth. I do not want to listen to that hooey. It is just privileged, sexist, homophobic, transphobic hooey.
    Women and gender-diverse people have fought hard for their rights. They continue to fight for their rights, and it will not be very easy to just roll over them so there can be the new dude paradise.

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     Madam Speaker, the member has been listening, no doubt, to a number of the Conservatives speak to the legislation, in essence saying that we would not be providing drug X or drug Y, and asking why not this drug, and so forth. Just to pick up on her comments, there are going to be nine million people who would potentially benefit from the passage of the legislation. Could she provide her perspective not only on the degree to which it is being well received in all regions of the country but also on the number of people it would actually affect?
     Madam Speaker, absolutely it would have a really positive impact, but the Liberals are not off the hook here. They might talk about the right to access safe abortions and the right to a safe abortion, but they have failed in terms of providing access, and this does not include the number of Liberal MPs who are listed as anti-choice. I am glad that the Liberals are on board with the NDP pharmacare plan to put in place free contraception and diabetes medication, but they need to look at stuff in their own backyard, including ensuring that all women and gender-diverse people can access safe, trauma-informed abortion care.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, before I ask a question, I want to talk about something that came to mind when I was listening to my colleague's speech. I am wondering how some men would react if, tomorrow morning, all of the women in this Parliament introduced a bill that forced men to get a vasectomy until they were ready to procreate. Perhaps that is extreme, but no more so than preventing a woman from making her own choice about whether to go forward with a pregnancy or not. In my opinion, preventing her from making that choice is just as extreme, and we should not go there.
    That being said, I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on how difficult it is to access services in remote areas, particularly any sort of gynecological care services. What does that involve in terms of time, travel and cost for women who need urgent gynecological care?

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    Madam Speaker, quite frankly, most women, historically, have gotten their tubes tied, which is a very major surgery, when we know that vasectomies are much easier. We are not asking people to get vasectomies. We are just saying, if we want a birth control pill, can someone give it to us? There is not just the fact that it is still up to women, in terms of the primary responsibility to consume the contraception, but there is also the fact that people whom it will never affect are violently fighting against it when there are easy solutions.
     Let us put all the solutions on the table. We are not even asking for that; we are just asking for free contraception. I think that is pretty reasonable. Ensuring that women can have a choice over their body is a lot cheaper than the emotional turmoil we have heard about with stories shared in the House because they did not have proper contraception to be able to make choices.
    Uqaqtittiji, I do want to ask my hon. colleague a question regarding parental rights, because Conservatives use that as a guise, I think, to pretend to care about women's bodies or unborn babies. I think that the pharmacare act could help make a difference regarding contraceptives and how Canadians need to be better informed when Conservatives are pretending to care through words or slogans like “parental rights”.