Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saint-Jean.
First of all, I would like to say that I am pleased to rise in the House today. As some of my colleagues mentioned earlier, we are here not just to serve as the opposition but also to propose ideas. In a democratic institution, I would not want to see intellectual laziness, bad faith or partisanship, which are ultimately unproductive.
I would like to talk a little about my experience yesterday at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which has resumed its meetings. During that meeting, I could see the gaps in what is currently being provided. I was obviously aware of these gaps, but I will elaborate in my comments.
I often say that I am proud to be an MP because I represent people who have different lives and experiences. My riding is a remote region with natural resources, fisheries, seasonal work and mines, and it covers a vast area.
At present, the work of the House is suspended. We should not fool ourselves by claiming that the House is fully operational. Most of the work we should be doing is not getting done and this is not working. I will give you an example.
Yesterday, a witness from my riding was unable to appear before the committee because we are currently receiving witnesses virtually. Unfortunately, in part of my riding, which is roughly 50,000 square kilometres, people do not have access to high speed Internet and that is causing them a lot of problems. They are being denied the democratic right of being able to participate in the debate and present their own reality. That witness was unable to testify as a fisher from an area in eastern Quebec, a very isolated region where there are no roads or bridges and where everything is covered in snow in winter.
In thinking of those witnesses who speak in committee or who cannot come testify, I would have liked this budget to make mention of the Internet. We have been talking about it for years and we depend on it, as I see every day in my own work, and also in my riding. I would have liked the government to think about these people in remote communities, but also those who live near urban centres and who also do not have Internet access.
The majority of the additional funding that will be provided has to do with COVID-19. However, no matter how many waves are coming our way, pressing needs remain. We have to prepare for the future, which means being in tune with the present and having the necessary infrastructure.
I would have liked to hear that witness talk about another subject that is not mentioned in these estimates, namely seasonal workers. Those who know seasonal workers in the fishing, forestry or tourism industries know that these sectors have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is no mention of these workers, even if we have heard that there might be something for them and that it might go through employment insurance.
We do not know what tomorrow will bring and these people are concerned. They want to hear the government talking about this and to know what exactly is going to happen to them. I am very pleased that the CERB has been extended. I would have liked for it to be adapted like we asked in order to encourage people to return to work even if they are getting it.
Meanwhile, these people do not even know if they will have a job this summer because they depend on a seasonal industry. I would also like them to know that they will be able to make it through the year. I am not just talking about a few individuals here, even though that in itself would be good. I am talking about entire communities, an industry and a territory that all need to survive the coming years.
In my riding, some communities rely solely on the fishing industry. That is their only industry and they have the right to survive. People are worried right now and I would have liked to see the government talk about their situation and find an immediate solution.
Finally, in that same committee, we also talked about indigenous people. We just talked extensively about them. The minister talked about them, but they told me that they were not—