Madam Speaker, it has now been several weeks since Bill C-4, an act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, was introduced.
It is becoming increasingly clear that this agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico has some serious consequences for Canada's and Quebec's economies. It is simple. Under this agreement, our exports to the United States will decrease and our imports from our neighbours to the south will increase. As a result, the United States will diminish Canada's industrial activity, shifting this activity to its own cities and towns. The C.D. Howe Institute's most recent study estimates that Canada's GDP will take a $14-billion hit. That is worrisome.
Agriculture in Canada, and especially in Quebec, will be one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. It will lose a significant portion of its market share to the United States. This is not to mention all the other trade benefits and legal advantages in terms of copyright, intellectual property, trademarks and data protection that the United States gained over Canada in these negotiations.
I even heard Canada's chief CUSMA negotiator say that the Government of Canada negotiated with the United States without analyzing the consequences of its decisions. Negotiating that kind of free trade agreement usually takes three years. Canadians should have been invited to submit studies that should have been debated to gain a better understanding of the long-term benefits for our economy. In this case, the United States forced negotiations and Canada was left scrambling.
The Government of Canada also rushed the study of Bill C-4. After finalizing the agreement last year, the Liberal government, which had a majority at the time, rejected the House of Commons' requests to examine the ins and outs of a future CUSMA implementation bill. That was last May. Then a general election was held on October 21. The House could have convened sooner, but that is not what happened. We finally opened the parliamentary session in December, but we did not discuss the agreement. We could have discussed it back in January, but that did not happen either. We could even have scheduled time for it in March during break last week, but it was all done in a rush in committee.
Fortunately, now that we have a minority government, the tone has changed, which has translated into some gains for Quebec. The Liberal government's haste was concealing some things. The Bloc Québécois insisted and managed to make the government aware of the consequences that its decisions and actions have on Quebec.
Fortunately, the Bloc Québécois was able to intelligently intervene to make this agreement a little more favourable for Quebec. If the Bloc Québécois had not done so, the Liberal government would have hurt Quebec's aluminum industry, even though it is the cleanest in the world. Indeed, CUSMA would have driven away more than $6 billion in investments in Quebec's aluminum industry. The Bloc Québécois salvaged something from the wreckage. The negotiations with the Liberal Party on Bill C-4 proved once again the importance of the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa.
On the other hand, it is unfortunate that CUSMA does nothing to address the softwood lumber crisis. Once again, it lets the United States dictate the market.
I now want to come back to the impact the agreement will have on rural life. In Quebec, over two million people live in rural areas. Eighteen per cent of Quebeckers live in a village like Saint-André-de-Kamouraska or in a small urban community like Macamic in the west of Abitibi. Over 40% of the revenue in Quebec's agricultural regions comes from the dairy industry. The weakening of supply management directly undermines the economic and social development of Quebec's rural regions.
Last weekend, I attended the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec convention in my home town of Rouyn-Noranda. I spoke with many next generation farmers who are very concerned about the impact of the changes to supply management because a stable, predictable income is important.
In CUSMA, as in previous agreements, Canada failed Quebec's dairy farmers. I would like to remind members that most of Canada's dairy farms are in Quebec. CUSMA gives up more than 3% of our dairy market, which amounts to an annual loss of $150 million in revenue for the two million people who live in the rural regions. Our agricultural community, which is at the very heart of our villages' vitality, continues to grow weaker every year.
I therefore expect the government to think about our towns and villages in the various compensation programs. That is why the Bloc Québécois, dairy producers and farmers in general are asking for a direct support program to compensate for losses, starting with the next budget—and that means very soon—to ensure that the economic vitality of our rural regions is not undermined.
Canada seems to have no regard for the reality that farm life and supply management create jobs and investments that contribute to the existence of a strong middle class in Quebec's rural areas.
Fortunately, a few days ago, the Bloc Québécois introduced a bill to protect supply management in Quebec in future trade negotiations.
Under this bill, the federal government will not be able to make an international trade commitment through a treaty or an agreement that would have the unfortunate effect of undermining supply management in Quebec. Our farmers and producers will finally have the protection they deserve to deal with the politics of free trade in the world. Circumventing supply management needs to stop. This bill is essential. I invite all my colleagues in the House of Commons to support it because, in addition to being an easy target in negotiations, supply management can also be circumvented with the right strategies. It is no secret that the United States has been using milk protein as a way of getting around supply management for years. It used to be a way for them to offload their surpluses onto Canadian markets at a lesser price than what our producers were asking. Now, they use it as a weapon to destroy supply management.
With the last agreement, the Canadian milk solids industry has literally been put under third-party management by the United States. Washington can limit the amount of protein our producers are entitled to sell in the rest of the world. The Americans will be able to squeeze Quebec out of global markets. That is a direct attack on our sovereignty. In other words, our producers could end up with huge surpluses and the surpluses could disrupt and jeopardize our family farm model.
Even worse, CUSMA also requires that we consult the United States about changes to the administration of the supply management system for Canada's dairy products. To force a Canadian industry to consult its direct competitor in another country about administrative changes it could make in future on the national level challenges our sovereignty.
For that reason the Bloc Québécois is recommending that Bill C-4 be accompanied by the following measures: that supply-managed producers and processors be fully compensated for their losses resulting from the trans-Pacific agreement, CETA and CUSMA and that this be clearly indicated in the next budget; that import licences resulting from breaches in supply management be issued first to processors rather than distributors and retailers; that, before ratifying CUSMA, the government consider the fact that if the agreement comes into force before August 1, 2020, milk protein export quotas for 2020-21 will be 35,000 tonnes rather than 55,000 tonnes if the agreement comes into force after August 1; that the government establish a permanent forum with producers and processors to ensure that the export tariff quotas are implemented in such a way as to cause the least possible harm to the dairy sector.
I was talking about the importance of income stability, which will have huge implications for the next generation of farmers in particular. Access to land, all of the bank loans and other programs are made possible through guarantees. The quota system and supply management were the main guarantees that farmers could offer. The implications are still being downplayed and they affect the cities, towns and regions of Quebec especially. All of Canada's concessions to our trade partners in recent agreements will have a direct impact on Quebec's rural economy. The latest trade agreements negotiated and signed by Ottawa have done nothing but create uncertainty in Quebec's towns and regions, in particular among farm owners, who are generally the ones who stimulate economic growth in their communities.
The principles of CUSMA will clearly have huge implications on investments in farms and processors, not to mention the job losses in cities and towns. The impact on agricultural producers goes beyond dairy farmers. We are talking about other farmers, veterinarians, equipment manufacturers, equipment vendors, truck drivers and feed suppliers. These financial losses will be felt by the various SMEs that remain in these towns. What is worse, the towns' social development will be affected. Services could be lost, schools could be shut down, and so on.
I invite all my colleagues in the House to visit the riding of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, particularly east of Témiscamingue, to understand the impact of a school closure or even the closure of a single retail store. In order to reduce the impact of all these losses, especially on rural Quebec, would it be possible for Ottawa to finally accede to Quebec's request that Quebeckers be put in charge of regional development programs? In the wake of the disastrous outcomes for rural Quebec, federal programs should be tailored to rural Quebec instead of being Canada-wide programs designed by Ottawa. If Ottawa is not in a position to protect and develop rural Quebec, if Ottawa does not care about Quebec's regions, then it should let Quebec manage the programs in a way that is more effective and beneficial for Quebec.