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View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 15:53 [p.2292]
Mr. Speaker, we are in the midst of a health crisis. Everyone knows that. A health crisis affects the health of the population. More demands are being put on the health care systems of the various regions of Canada. Unfortunately, Quebec is no exception. We know that the Quebec health care system has been sorely tried by the COVID-19 crisis. Seniors' residences in Quebec are a good example of the major difficulties being faced by the Quebec government and the Quebec health care system in particular.
What are the solutions?
We know that the government is trying to find solutions to the problems facing Quebec and Canada, but it is relying on an old habit. It is the old habit of thinking that big brother in Ottawa knows better than everyone else, that big brother in Ottawa will solve the problem for the provinces and Quebec and will tell everyone else to step aside, because big brother has the solution. The problem is that, based on the slapdash way it managed the border closure at the beginning of the pandemic and the way it managed the Phoenix pay system, I am a bit worried when I hear the government saying that it has all the answers and it knows what to do.
The NDP leader made it very clear today that he thinks the federal government just needs to meddle in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec. It just needs to shove the provinces aside. However, everyone in the National Assembly in Quebec's Parliament and everyone across Quebec agrees that Quebec's jurisdiction must be respected, more specifically with regard to health. I am not the one saying this. This comes from the National Assembly and the various political parties.
As a solution, the Liberals initially tried to take over the long-term care homes. However, they were promptly informed that it was none of their business. I think they got the message.
There are always roundabout ways of doing things. The federal government said earlier that the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec must be respected, yet the Minister of Health said it wants to provide money for mental health, home care and so on. It cannot do that. That is a roundabout way of doing something it is not allowed to do directly. It cannot offer money to sectors that are managed by the provinces and Quebec with strings attached.
What is the solution, then? I can say that the NDP's solution is completely off base. It is not surprising that the NDP, which had 59 MPs from Quebec in 2011 has just one left. The Liberals' solution is no better. The Conservatives have proven that they cannot maintain consistent measures over time and were not able to manage the health care systems in the provinces and Quebec.
The solution is set out in the British North America Act, that famous document that created Canada. The solution is right there in black and white. This document states that the provinces have jurisdiction over health, and this document is sacred to many. It is simple: Health care belongs to the provinces and Quebec.
The Constitution also covers how government services are funded. Since the Canadian provinces and Quebec start off with fewer financial means to manage their jurisdictions, the Constitution was written to include a system in which the federal government would transfer funds to the provinces and Quebec. They knew that the money was in Ottawa but the needs were in Quebec. The fiscal imbalance dates all the way back to 1867.
Let's look back in history. At the time, this was not a major issue because health was often managed by religious orders. However, it became a problem when the responsibility for health was transferred to the welfare state in 1960.
Quebec was going to manage the health care system and would obviously call on Ottawa to lend a hand by providing program funding and federal transfers. It was thought that Quebec and the federal government would fund the system fifty-fifty, but such was not the case.
What happened was that—
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