Mr. Speaker, my constituents sent me here to fight for them and to fight for all Canadians. It is truly an honour to serve on the health committee where I can do what I came here to do: stand up for some of Canada's most vulnerable.
I would like to address the question I asked last Tuesday on behalf of a couple in Langley who were waiting for their pregnant daughter and her family to be extracted from Wuhan. I am very pleased to inform the House that the family had found a way onto a British aircraft and are now safely evacuated from the quarantine zone.
Since the last time I addressed the House, I have had dozens of Canadians with family in China contact me for help and answers. They are concerned about the availability of accurate and timely information. Currently, there is no way for families to confirm if their submitted information is properly filed. At this point, there is no way to confirm which persons will be on which plane. There is no way to confirm which permanent residents are scheduled to be repatriated. There also remains a great deal of concern regarding the travel arrangements that will be provided to unaccompanied minors who are in the care of Chinese citizens.
Yesterday, we heard at committee that there are processes in place, but based on my follow-up conversations with concerned Canadians, there still appears to be a disappointing lack of clarification. Yes, Global Affairs has reached out to those affected; however, in many cases, they are not receiving a clearly communicated plan regarding the details of their evacuation. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Last night, I spoke to a couple from B.C. The spouse who is a citizen has received confirmation that he will be evacuated, but the evacuation plan for the spouse who is a permanent resident has still not been communicated. I spoke with another fellow whose baby, two-year-old Gavin, will be accompanied by one or more of his grandparents who are Chinese citizens and will act as his guardians. We were assured in committee yesterday that cost will not be an obstacle for Canadians, and yet this father was asked, “What kind of health insurance do Gavin's grandparents have?”
While we are on the topic of a clearly communicated plan, I would like to share another story with the House, which was reported to me by an employee of the Vancouver Airport. This man, who I will call Jack, works for CATSA. Jack is concerned for the safety of his co-workers and passengers at the airport. He told me that, unlike CBSA, the pre-board screening officers do not have a dedicated area, nor training, nor guidance, nor identifying tools to deal with outbound passengers who may be displaying symptoms. Health Canada says that the virus is not airborne and is preventable if one washes one's hands and stays at least two metres away from potential carriers. Jack said that was not possible. Screening officers come into direct contact with passengers. Further, his employer is not providing them with face masks and had even asked that officers refrain from wearing them to avoid panic.
What concerns Canadians, as much as the lack of communication, is the delay in coming up with a plan. A week ago, many of our allies had already begun evacuating their citizens, which is why the daughter of the couple from Langley were able to get on a British plane. We were told at committee that this sort of coordinated effort is extremely complicated. While I appreciate that, it was equally complicated for the other nations to evacuate their citizens. The U.S. has just completed its last flight and we have not done our first.
Why is the government's response to this global health emergency so much slower than that of our allies, and when will every affected Canadian know how they or their families will be brought home from China?