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View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2020-04-20 15:50 [p.2201]
Mr. Speaker, today, MPs from across the country once again demonstrated the importance of continuing to hold in-person sittings.
We put questions to the Prime Minister and his ministers. Even though we did not get all the answers we were hoping for, we exercised our right as parliamentarians and got to fulfill our role of representing Canadians. We, the opposition members, were not elected to blindly support the government. We play a crucial role, namely to monitor the government, hold it accountable, and secure better results for Canadians.
Canadians have serious questions about the government's response to the pandemic thus far. My constituents were shocked to learn that the government destroyed stockpiles of medical supplies without replacing them. After all, the Prime Minister has warned of a second and third wave of this pandemic. Are we going to be ready for that? Has the government learned from its mistakes? Does it have a plan in place to get Canadians through the crisis?
Canadians across the country have been following physical distancing guidelines and are trying to keep up with the government's ever-changing recommendations, because they were told we needed to flatten the curve in order to give the government time. However, while announcements keep getting made, the government has not been able to provide clear timelines. Provinces have received defective masks and contaminated test kits. New benefits get announced, but the eligibility criteria keeps changing. The government seems so focused on fixing its own mistakes that it does not seem to have a plan to restart our economy when the health crisis passes.
The United States has already announced a plan to reopen its economy. Other countries are doing the same. Yes, we must address the very real and immediate danger of COVID-19, but not while ignoring the other impacts of this shutdown.
We cannot do this without recognizing the impact that it has had on Canadians suffering from other serious health situations whose surgeries and treatments have been postponed, not without recognizing the mental health toll that this is taking on Canadians across the country and not without recognizing the long-term impacts of a historic economic recession.
What is the government's plan to help Canadians who are facing bankruptcy? No amount of government aid can fully replace the power of the Canadian economy. For example, the Connexus Credit Union has already received 700 applications and processed $28 million in loans for businesses. Only a quarter of that is eligible for complete forgiveness. Those businesses will need to make around $21 million collectively in profits by the end of the year in order to avoid paying interest on their loans. It is nearly May. How should they plan to do that with a government that has ordered the shutdown to continue?
Will the government finally accept our proposal to rebate the GST to small businesses that it has collected in the last year so that they have the immediate cash flow to pay their workers?
Canadians deserve to know what the plan is to get this country back to work. Will the government continue to listen exclusively to the recommendations of the World Health Organization or will it start to look to countries that are listening to their own experts and finding creative solutions to minimize the spread of infection and enable society to function much more freely?
From the beginning of this crisis, the Liberals have been slow to react, slow to close our borders, slow to put in place enhanced screening measures at airports, slow to admit that masks could prevent the spread of this disease, slow to work with Canadian companies to retool and start producing much-needed medical supplies, slow to increase the wage subsidy and devastatingly slow to offer any help to the energy sector. The government was consistently slow to react in the early days of the crisis and Canadians have paid the price. It will be disastrous if it is slow to put a plan in place for Canada to come out of this crisis.
Let me be clear. The Conservatives do not want everything to go back to normal today. We are seeing signs of hope only in a few areas of the country. We must continue to help Canadians deal with the health impacts of this crisis, but that does not mean that the government should not come up with a plan to get the country back on track when the time comes.
The government cannot revitalize the economy on its own. That will be up to Canadians: the business owners who are just trying to scrape by until they can reopen and the employees hanging on until they can go back to work. It is hard-working and innovative Canadians who will get this country and our economy back on track, and the government's job is to put them in the best possible position to do just that.
That means listening to Canadians, working with opposition parties, implementing our constructive solutions and actually taking a team Canada approach. The men and women working in our health care system, like the nurses, doctors and suppliers, and everyone working in essential services, like the truck drivers, pharmacists and grocery store workers, have all gone above and beyond to allow us to stay as safe and healthy as possible. They have bought us time, and I hope the government will use it well.
Today is another difficult day for Canadians across this country and they deserve a plan for a better tomorrow.
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