Mr. Speaker, the tone just changed. While I was listening to my colleague, I was thinking. As some of my colleagues know, I was an actor in a previous life. When I rise in the House, I always wonder if I am putting on a show for the camera or playing to the house.
Things are pretty strange right now. Because of the pandemic and social distancing, there are just 38 members here instead of 338, and right now it feels like I am playing to an empty house. This feels like the eighth performance of a pretty bad show that got panned by critics. The place is deserted, but nobody is going to listen to me anyway. Half the time, people are busy doing their own thing. Still, I hope people are following the debate.
I would be remiss if I did not begin my presentation by acknowledging Quebec's front-line workers, especially those working in our long-term care centres and hospitals, including all the orderlies, nurses and doctors. They are on the front line. We, meanwhile, are on the third or fourth line. It is hard to say. We are definitely an essential service, because we take care of the people.
That is the main thesis of my presentation. I think we must come back to this place. Parliament must resume its work. We must find ourselves face to face with one another, with people from the other parties, including the ministers and the Prime Minister. This is not about having little Zoom conferences for two hours a day only to turn around and negotiate behind the scenes. Parliament needs to do its work, because there are serious problems to address.
Let's back up a bit. I was commending the nurses. They are running the show. It is no small injustice in this crisis that the soldiers on the front lines, those who come out of the trenches and go to the front, are earning minimum wage. CHSLD workers earn $13 an hour. That is an outrage. This is not Zimbabwe or Eritrea, it is Canada, the best country in the world, and yet the soldiers we send to the front lines are earning minimum wage.
Where is the answer to this crisis? It is here, in the House. We have been talking about health transfers for 30 years. Health care is underfunded. People are underpaid. We are looking for the problem in the CHSLDs. We all have a responsibility here to ensure that the federal government covers 50% of the provinces' health care costs to pay for doctors, hospitals, nurses, surgeons and orderlies. We must give them a decent wage. We have to take care of the people who take care of our people. Right now, the federal government is paying 23% of provincial health care costs. That is billions of dollars. What would we do with that money during this period? We would pay people well.
We all have the power here to change that. Are we going to use it, or are we going to continue to do little Zoom meetings from time to time, sitting comfortably in our living rooms, where we can see what books the ministers are reading and the hockey trophies they won when they were young?
We want to make meaningful decisions. We want to sit so we can take care of people's problems. That is what I am thinking.
I was speaking about nurses. I wanted to pay tribute to them because they are working on the front lines. We are debating whether or not we will continue with Parliament. In two months, the government signed cheques totalling $300 billion. It threw together some laws. For years, we came here to debate and try to do things. Three or four public servants and two or three ministers got together and in two months cheques totalling $300 billion were hastily signed.
That is unbelievable. They signed $300 billion in cheques to solve some problems. We want to continue doing that because there will be more problems after the crisis. There are problems now and there will be some after.
Our nurses are dying. That upsets me. That is another thing. I do not think that anyone is at risk by coming here. It is always possible, but it would be an accident. We could get hit by a car on Wellington, but that is not very likely to happen. Young men and young women, who often come from another country, which is another issue, get up every morning and may contract a deadly virus. They can wear protective equipment, but it could happen anyway. No one here can say the same thing. Our job is make sure that they do not get sick. We have that power. The best way to pay tribute to all these people is come sit here to do our work, vote on legislation and distribute money. We were able to inject $300 billion into the system. I think there is still some missing. Even today, long-term care homes in Quebec are having a hard time finding people. We have to find people, and for that we have to pay them. This money needs to go to serving these people, not into the pockets of the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party. People who are working need to get paid. That is what we want to do.
That is the kind of work I want to do. I want to come here and vote to give money to the people who really need it. It would be the best way to thank them. It is one of the needs that could be met.
I have three minutes left. I wanted to talk about housing.
An hon. member: Do not forget to talk about nurses.
Mr. Denis Trudel: I think I talked enough about nurses. That is one problem, but there is a slew of problems that could be resolved. We need to sit down here to do that.
Let's talk about housing in Quebec. There was a crisis, there is a crisis and there will be a crisis. Right now, we do not know what we are going to do, but all parliamentarians can take action in this regard. Three or four years ago, the Government of Canada implemented the national housing strategy. It promised that it would find housing for people, that it would take care of that. It allocated $55 billion, which was spent all across Canada, except in Quebec. Over the past two months, it has signed $300 billion worth of cheques. We need $1.4 billion to house people who are going to end up on the street in two months. When will the government give out that money? People are going to be out on the street tomorrow morning. We know that. Just ask all of the organizations involved in housing, homelessness or low-income housing. In three months, these people will be out on the street. Just ask all of the food banks. The crisis is happening now, but it will start all over again in six months.
A woman from one of the food banks in my riding told me that if she does not bring in $80,000 over the coming year, she will have to shutter the place. That woman feeds 100 people every week. Where will she find the money? On the housing front, Quebec needs $1.4 billion to house its people. Just because of a flag, the government across the way is refusing to hand over $1.4 billion even though it has pumped $300 billion into the system over the past two months. That is unacceptable. Parliament must sit. We will not do this online. We need to be here, face to face, talking about what folks need and cutting people cheques.