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View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marie-France Lalonde Profile
2022-09-26 11:02 [p.7647]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the House about Bill C‑238 regarding the French language.
Everyone in Canada cares about protecting the French language. The latest census data show that French is in decline in Quebec and the rest of Canada. We must act swiftly and collectively. Our government agrees with the Government of Quebec on this matter. I think that everyone in the House has a shared objective to protect and promote the French language, although we disagree on how to do so.
The approach to the future of French in Canada set out under Bill C‑238, introduced by the Bloc Québécois, is very narrow. This bill takes a Quebec-centric approach to our language regime without regard for francophones across Canada, from coast to coast. In addition to the millions of Quebeckers who share the common language of French, there are more than one million francophones outside of Quebec who live, work and thrive in French. My francophone community in Orléans is just one example.
The Bloc Québécois is calling for the recognition of Quebec's language regime, enforcement of the Charter of the French Language for federally regulated private businesses located in Quebec and the requirement that those hoping to obtain Canadian citizenship while living in Quebec have an adequate knowledge of French.
Although we share the Bloc Québécois's concern over the future of French in North America, we do not agree with their solution. We believe that we must take a targeted approach to protect and promote French across Canada. That is what our government proposed in Bill C‑13, an act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the use of French in federally regulated private businesses act and to make related amendments to other acts, which we introduced in the House on March 1.
It is important to note that Bill C‑238 adopts a narrow view of the future of French, while our Bill C‑13 recognizes not only the linguistic reality of Quebec, but also the language regimes of other provinces and territories in Canada. Let us be clear, Bill C‑238 does nothing for francophones outside Quebec, while Bill C‑13 plans to create new rights for consumers and employees who work at federally regulated private businesses in Quebec, but also in regions outside Quebec with a high francophone presence.
Comparing the provisions of both bills, it is clear that the vision is narrower in one case and broader in the other, that the approach is exclusive in one case and more inclusive in the other, and that the priority is provincial in one case and national in the other. Bill C‑238 will fail to meet the expectations and demands of the majority of Canadians with respect to our two official languages.
This Bloc Québécois bill simply does not meet the priorities of francophone minority communities in provinces and territories outside Quebec. Bill C‑238 does not meet the needs of English-speaking communities in Quebec.
For these reasons, the government cannot support Bill C‑238. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are not against Bill C‑238's objectives. We are opposing the bill because there is so much missing in terms of adapting it to the reality of official language minority communities.
In other words, its vision is too narrow and lacks ambition. We are against Bill C‑238 because we want to go much further. The measures in our Bill C‑13 are ambitious and fine-tuned to meet communities' current and future needs.
Bill C‑13 covers broader segments of our Canadian linguistic regime and will have a real impact on the lives of Canadians. It covers the appointment of Supreme Court of Canada justices, enhances the Commissioner of Official Languages' powers, supports official language learning and addresses francophone immigration. In short, Bill C‑13 does more of what Canadians want than Bill C‑238 ever could.
Bill C‑13 offers a vision for francophones in Quebec and for all Canadians, because the Official Languages Act must reflect their needs and realities too. We are all aware of the facts. Canada's francophone population is declining; our government has clearly acknowledged that. We are also aware that Canadians want to be able to learn official languages. They want to be able to use them in their everyday lives. They want to enjoy the benefits of having French in Canada and of living in an officially bilingual country. Our Bill C‑13 meets those needs and puts forward a real, pan-Canadian vision for Canadians.
It is just such a pan-Canadian vision that is lacking in Bill C‑238. That is why we cannot support this bill. Together, we can reverse the decline of the French language, but we all have to work together to make that happen. That means reaching out to official language minority communities and coming up with policies and programs that meet their needs.
To conclude, let me say to my fellow members that I hope all parties will work with us to pass Bill C‑13 as quickly as possible.
View René Villemure Profile
BQ (QC)
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-26 11:10 [p.7648]
Madam Speaker, it would be a mistake to oppose Bills C-13 and C-238, so I cannot agree with my colleague.
Bill C-238 aims to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act, the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Citizenship Act. I would like to start by telling my colleagues that, when they vote on this bill, they will not be doing Quebec any favours. What they will be doing by voting for Bill C-238 is correcting a historical error and giving justice where justice is due.
Everyone understands that Canada was founded by the French then conquered by the British a very long time ago. The two peoples have since lived together in times of peace and in more difficult times. Our history includes victories for some, and bitter losses for others. French Canadians became Quebeckers and chose to assert themselves, shouting until they were blue in the face that their culture, their identity and their language were precious to them.
In 1977, under Camille Laurin, Quebec enacted the Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 101. Bill 101 made French the official language of the Quebec government and courts. French was now recognized as the normal and everyday language of work in education, trade, communications and business. Bill 101 enshrined in law the fact that French was the language of the majority. The French language was precious and statistically a minority language within English-speaking North America. That is why it needed protection.
Of course, not everyone was happy about Bill 101. Although it protected the anglophone minority in Quebec, which, incidentally, is the best-protected minority in Canada, the bill was challenged and cut back. Opponents tried to render it meaningless, and some of their efforts were successful.
Now we are in 2022, and statisticians have confirmed that the French language is in decline in Quebec, especially in the magnificent island of Montreal. I remember walking with my son on Notre-Dame Street in the middle of Saint-Henri, a neighbourhood Yvon Deschamps described as a place where francophone workers and the poor lived and worked. I remember seeing that the snack bars had been replaced with Internet coffee shops with English names. A very nice student from Toronto who had come to work there as part of a French immersion program spoke to us in English and understood nothing of our “gibberish” as we spoke French. I asked for “un espresso, s’il vous plaît”, and he answered, in as friendly and innocent a manner as can be, “Sorry, I don’t speak French”. This experience was repeated throughout our walk down Notre-Dame Street. Not only was the street anglicized in terms of language, but also in terms of social context. We could have been in Toronto, or anywhere in the globalized world. There is not much difference between “un espresso” and “an espresso”, but, still, French did not seem to be important.
Make no mistake: I have nothing against English. Rather, I am simply saying that I am pro-French. Coming back to the example I gave earlier, I find it curious that a student from Toronto who wants to broaden their horizons would come to Montreal, just to work in English in a café located in an area that was historically francophone but has since become primarily anglophone. So much for French immersion.
Beyond the statistics pointing to the decline of French in Quebec, simply walking through the streets of Montreal confirms it. From Second Cup to Five Guys, my beloved French is suffering.
It is important to understand that beyond fulfilling a simple communication function, language is also a political statement and, above all, a mindset. A bit of an explanation is in order.
Let us start by asking the following question: What is language? It is, first and foremost, a matter of linguistics. Language must first be regarded as a system of signs connecting words, drawn from a lexicon and according to specific grammatical rules established by a syntax. Language is the ability to express an idea and communicate through a system of signs. This is where we have a problem.
The rampant anglicization of Quebec society prevents people from thinking in French, creating in French and being French. Globalization, which made Céline Dion popular from Algeria to Indonesia, has also flattened cultures, all cultures except for one, the Anglo-Saxon culture. We were told that globalization liberated cultures whereas, in reality, it simply made people want to or have to live in English.
Language is all about communicating and thinking. Globalization has brought with it the danger of what I call a single mindset, which occurs when what is essential is no longer distinguished from what is secondary, when far-reaching intellectual projects face the powerful inertia of pervasive mediocrity and small-mindedness, and when tastes and ideas become homogeneous.
It is the very perception of existence that is at stake when we talk about a single mindset. English dominates the world and now serves as the platform for this single mindset. That is why we must resist. That is why we are studying Bill C-238 today.
Six living Quebec premiers supported the Quebec government's motion to the effect that the French requirement should apply to federally regulated businesses in Quebec. The fact that it is not being applied is anachronistic and can only be aimed at exacerbating the decline of the French language.
The former Bill C-223 proposed that those applying for citizenship in Quebec would need to possess an adequate knowledge of French. The fact that this requirement has not already been implemented is equally anachronistic and again can only be aimed at exacerbating the decline of the French language in Quebec.
This is why the Bloc Québécois is categorically opposed to the federal government's attempt to supersede provincial legislation in Quebec with its own law.
The federal government needs to recognize that the Government of Quebec must remain in charge of language planning within Quebec. Language is a fundamental aspect of the specificity and identity of the Quebec nation.
This is the most important part: We must preserve French in order to preserve freedom of thought. That is why I suggest that members of Parliament right a historical wrong and vote in favour of Bill C-238.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2022-09-26 11:17 [p.7649]
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be participating in this debate. Before getting to the crux of the matter, I would like to send my best wishes to all of the Canadians and Quebeckers affected by hurricane Fiona. We were all stunned to see the devastation in the Atlantic provinces, as well as in the Magdalen Islands and on the Lower North Shore in Quebec. Our hearts go out to the brave residents who must now cope with the aftermath.
As the Deputy Premier of Quebec said, there were no serious injuries or deaths in the Magdalen Islands or on the Lower North Shore. The rest is just material things, but I do realize that people need material things to live. I would like to send my regards to the people who are facing this reality today, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to the first responders helping out on the ground in every province, including the military and public safety personnel.
I just want them to know that all of us in the House of Commons are here for them. If anyone needs anything at all at the federal level, Canada will be there to respond. This situation affects us all. Nature is bigger than any of us could ever be.
Today we are discussing the French language. Today we are discussing the official languages. Today we are discussing a reality that is demographically indisputable: The French language is in decline in Canada and Quebec.
This is nothing new at the sociological, demographic or geographical level. Consider the following: The population of North America, by which I mean Canada and the United States, our closest neighbour, is almost 380 million. Of that number, fewer than eight million speak French. Everyone else speaks English as their primary language.
That is like meeting a group of six people, five of whom speak English and one of whom speaks French. That is not quite precise, but I am rounding off the numbers to give an example that speaks for itself. From a mathematical point of view, the French-speaking person will feel dominated by the other five, who speak English. That person will feel strongly tempted to speak the language of the other five.
As I will explain later, wanting to speak two languages does not mean that we want to obliterate our first language.
In addition to this demographic reality that speaks for itself, the figures and the science show that the French language is indeed on the decline in Canada, especially in Quebec. According to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada, between 2016 and 2021, the number of French speakers went from 7.7 million to 7.8 million. Some of my colleagues may say that the opposite is true and that I am misleading the House by saying that the French language is in decline in Quebec when more people now speak French.
It is important to put this in perspective. The proportion of French speakers has declined from 22.4% to 21.4%. Yes, Statistics Canada's figures show that the French language is in decline throughout Canada. The situation is the same in Quebec, only worse. Five years ago, there were 6.4 million people in Quebec whose first language was French. Today, there are 6.5 million. This is an increase in number, but a decrease in percentage, from 79% to 77.5%. We completely agree that the French language is in decline and that something must be done.
We know that the New Brunswick, Quebec and federal governments are working to improve the situation. Bills have been tabled and passed. Quebec passed Bill 96 in June. It is now law.
I will always sincerely respect my commitment. As an elected official at the federal level, I do not get involved in provincial affairs. I have enough on my plate without playing armchair quarterback. A bill was passed at the end of a debate last year to protect the French language. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? We will let the public decide.
At the federal level, the government tabled Bill C-13, which is currently being considered.
I will get back to this later, but I must say something first. It brings me no happiness to say it. I have the utmost respect for the woman herself, but when the government appoints someone as head of state who cannot speak both official languages, it is sending the wrong message. I have nothing against her, but I have a lot against the choice made by this government, which claims to be the great defender of the two official languages.
It sends a very strong message about the person representing the British monarch, not only symbolically but in actual terms. The late Queen spoke both official languages remarkably well, as does the current King, perhaps not as well as his mother, but we salute his outstanding effort. The government's appointee speaks French less proficiently than the person she is representing. The government is sending the wrong message.
We also understand that there is not a law in the world that could change anything about the reality people find themselves in today, whether they are accessing social media or any information that is disseminated around the world.
That is what I want to talk about. It is not because francophones learn English that they want to set the French language aside. The two languages are not mutually exclusive. We need to stop seeing English as the language of the Plains of Abraham. Rather, it is the language that is often used around the world today. It does not mean that we want to eradicate the French language. On the contrary, we must share with the world the fact that we speak French, that we are proud to speak French and that this country received the first Europeans who just happened to be French, like Jacques Cartier and Champlain.
Let us not forget former prime minister the Right Hon. Stephen Harper's lovely and meaningful custom of always starting his speeches in French wherever he was in the world, reminding people that Canada's first language was French.
Yes, people will be tempted to learn English. The two languages are not mutually exclusive.
One way we can make sure that francophones have an important place in our future is immigration policy. This is currently being debated in Quebec. Our history shows that the current debates on immigration in Quebec are nothing new.
In 1968, the Union Nationale government of the late Daniel Johnson Sr. created the ministry of immigration. In 1971, Pierre Elliott Trudeau's Liberal federal government entered into the Lang-Cloutier agreement with the Quebec government, allowing it to deploy agents abroad to recruit French-speaking immigrants to Quebec. The agreement was renewed in 1975. We mentioned the Andras-Bienvenue agreement, which recognized Quebec's special needs. There was also the milestone Cullen-Couture agreement in 1978. That is important because it was entered into by a sovereigntist government. Minster Couture reached an agreement with the federalist Liberal government of Canada led by Mr. Trudeau: it was this agreement that recognized Quebec and gave it decision-making powers over its choice of immigrants. In 1991, there was the extremely important Gagnon-Tremblay-McDougall agreement between Mr. Bourassa's provincial government and the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney's federal government.
In short, negotiations between the federal and provincial governments have been positive and productive for over 50 years now. Of course, they can always be better, but no one should think that the debate on immigration to strengthen the French fact in Quebec is brand new or that it was only sparked by some electoral fervour. Quebec and Ottawa have been getting along for more than half a century.
I had a lot more to say but, unfortunately, my time is running out. I would remind the House that Bill C-13 provides an opportunity to overhaul the Official Languages Act. The Official Languages Act was created in 1969 by a previous government under Trudeau senior, and has been updated only once, in 1988, under Brian Mulroney. This needs to be done, and it must be done properly. We hope that Bill C-13 will be given a lot more teeth in order to help ensure the survival of the French language.
View Bernard Généreux Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the second reading debate on Bill C-238, An Act respecting the French language. This bill was introduced by the member for Salaberry—Suroît, and I thank her for her work on it. The member has concerns about the future of the French language, as do I, and as do we all.
I am proud to be a long-time member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, which has been doing some very interesting work during this Parliament. I would also like to recognize my colleagues on the committee and to highlight the outstanding work being done by our official languages critic, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
French is declining in Quebec. That is unfortunately a fact. The proportion of French speakers across Canada has fallen since the last census in 2016. In fact, even though the number of Canadians who speak French has increased from 7.7 million to 7.8 million, an increase of 100,000 people over five years, the proportion of Canadians whose first language is French has decreased. According to Statistics Canada, that number dropped from 22.2% in 2016 to 21.4% in 2021.
If the trend continues, according to the famous formula, the weight of French in Canada will go into an irreversible decline. The same thing is happening even in Quebec. The proportion of people who use French fell from 79% to 77.5% over the same five-year period. It is urgent that we take action to halt the trend. The Conservative Party has always been a strong advocate for the French fact in Canada. Our country was born in French and must continue to live in French.
The bill we are discussing today contains four parts that address four very different issues. Although all four parts involve the French language, the fact remains that it is difficult to combine four subjects, four issues, four laws in one private member's bill.
I must say that one of the proposed changes rings a bell. I remember having the opportunity to study and vote in favour of Bill C-223, which the Conservatives supported at second reading before the last pointless election was called by the Liberal government less than a year ago. Yes, immigrants residing in Quebec should have an adequate knowledge of Quebec's French language. That is clear. No one is disputing that.
At the time, my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul explained that the Conservatives supported the principle behind Bill C-223 based on two fundamental Conservative Party principles. The first is the recognition of the Quebec nation, as recognized by former prime minister Stephen Harper. The second is our commitment to protecting its language and culture. At the time, we did not even get to vote on the bill at second reading. We did not even get a chance to study the bill in committee, which is unfortunate.
I noticed that Bill C-238 contains three other measures. In addition to amending the Citizenship Act, the bill proposes amendments to three other acts, namely the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Official Languages Act and the Canada Labour Code.
Bill C-238 proposes that the Canada Business Corporations Act be amended to add the following: “the name of a corporation that carries on business in the Province of Quebec shall meet the requirements of the Charter of the French Language.”
It is important to bear in mind that Quebec passed Bill 96 only in June, which is not that long ago. On June 1, 2022, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, also known as Bill 96, received royal assent, bringing into effect several provisions amending the Charter of the French Language and about 20 other acts and regulations.
The new charter sets out stricter requirements for public signs and posters bearing the company's name that are visible from outside premises, and French must be markedly predominant over any other language. The transition period for public signs and posters will end by May 2025. The Quebec government understood that it had to do something about the quality of signs and posters.
However, the bill we are currently discussing focuses the name of a business or corporation as it appears in the articles of incorporation. I own a business myself, and that is how I interpret it. It is also important to note that the decline of French will not be solved by fixing articles of incorporation.
Even if changes were made to company names in Quebec's business registry but not reflected in signs and posters outside, it would obviously not make a difference. The French language is in decline, and we need far more effective measures.
Bill C-238 also amends the Canada Labour Code to subject it to the Charter of the French Language. As it happens, with respect to working in French, my colleagues and I will be studying the application of the Official Languages Act to workers.
I would also like to ask the following question: Would it not have been better to propose a bill like Bill C‑238, which amends the charter, after the final version of the National Assembly's Bill 96 came out in June? We shall see. Perhaps this bill should have been tabled after Bill 96 was passed in Quebec. That would probably have made it easier to understand.
Lastly, with respect to the Official Languages Act, as I was saying, the Standing Committee on Official Languages is are already working to improve the substance of Bill C-13. If we want to amend the Official Languages Act, the committee study of Bill C‑13 provides the opportunity to do so. That is why I am convinced that it is by working hard to improve Bill C‑13 that we will achieve the objectives I share with Bill C‑238's sponsor, who is concerned, as I am, about the future of French not only in Canada, but in Quebec as well.
It is no secret that this government has been rattled by non-stop scandals involving official languages since Bill C‑13 was tabled. The Minister of Official Languages only seems to be working part time, since she is responsible for two totally different departments. This government almost sued B.C. francophones because the Minister of Justice was working against the Minister of Official Languages. There is a lot of coordination that should be done, but the government is not doing it. This government holds unilingual briefing sessions and is not even ashamed of it.
The Standing Committee on Official Languages regularly hears from witnesses who very clearly tell us that there has to be an agency within government that is responsible for official languages, and that is the Treasury Board. This has been repeated ad nauseam. I sincerely believe that we will have to present an amendment to Bill C-13 in that regard.
There is clearly a lot of work to be done to address the French language issue, not just in Canada but also in Quebec. We have to look to legislative measures to stop the decline of French all across Canada. I believe we will achieve that by working together. I would like to again thank my colleague for introducing this bill. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that it will go very far, because it proposes changes to too vast a body of laws and regulations. However, on a positive note, Bill C-13 gives us a real opportunity to change things.
In fact, before leaving for the summer break in June, the government wanted to rush the bill through, and just yesterday we resumed hearing from witnesses in committee. These witnesses more or less unanimously agree that if we really want to stop the decline of French in Canada and Quebec, then we must, especially in Canada, have a government agency that manages our official languages, and I nominate the Treasury Board. The Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, or FCFA, is saying, along with everyone else, that the government will have to think long and hard before passing this bill that will make fundamental changes within the machinery of government.
One thing is very clear: We are getting complaints. The Commissioner of Official Languages is also receiving a whole lot of complaints. There is still much work to be done, but we will work with my colleague and her party to improve the future of French in Canada.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to express the NDP's support for Bill C‑238 at second reading.
Later in my speech I will talk about our concerns with some aspects of the bill, in particular regarding citizenship granted to immigrants who come through the family reunification stream and to refugees. I will get back to this, but this is a significant concern that has been debated at length in parliamentary committee.
There is no problem with the first part of the bill, which deals with federally regulated businesses, and that is why we will support sending Bill C‑238 to committee. That said, as members know, the NDP has always been the only party in the House to champion and advocate for the rights of linguistic minorities and the French language, not just in Quebec, but all across the country.
To illustrate, I can point to British Columbia, where a provincial NDP government created the existing French-language school board network and umbrella programs in francophone schools across the province. This was a unique, important initiative from the NDP.
I could also give the example of the New Democrat government in Saskatchewan. It did the same thing: It opened French-language schools throughout the province. The New Democrat government in Manitoba established a network of French-language schools and school boards across the province.
We also mentioned New Democrat member Léo Piquette, a Franco-Albertan and the strongest advocate for French-language rights in Alberta. New Democrat governments in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces expanded the network of French-language colleges.
I could give numerous examples of New Democrat governments and members that have always pushed to advance the rights of francophone minority-language communities and, of course, to defend the French language.
These are undeniable facts no one can challenge. It may be easy to speak before the House, but it is more difficult to talk to people across the country, as we did. We are also proud of our past record in this respect, and our efforts continue into the present. New Democrat members always advocate for the French language and linguistic minorities, which, of course, include francophone linguistic minorities.
Since adopting the Sherbrooke Declaration, the New Democrats have been pushing for legislation concerning federally regulated businesses. As our members know, it has been years. Obviously, I am referring to the party under Jack Layton, Thomas Mulcair, Nycole Turmel and, of course, our current leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South.
At every opportunity, the NDP has taken a stand and tabled bills on the subject. We have fought for this in the House. It only makes sense that workers in Quebec have the right to work in French. This is not currently the case, since federally regulated businesses are exempt from the obligation to provide a workplace in which people can communicate in French.
It also makes sense that workers in caisses populaires be able to speak, communicate and work in French. When it comes to the major Canadian banks, workers no longer have these rights. That is why the NDP has been demanding for years that federally regulated businesses be subject to the same obligation to create a work environment where employers and workers have the right to express themselves, communicate and work in French.
It only makes sense. It is like what I said earlier. We have always advocated for the right of francophones to have access to services. It is a basic right to be able to work in French, whether one is in Montreal or Quebec City. If someone works in a federally regulated business, it is only logical that they have the right to work in French.
It is precisely this first part of the bill that we fully support. For years now, our party has been saying that workers in businesses under federal jurisdiction should be granted this basic right. It only makes sense.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a big problem with the second part of the bill. When it comes to economic immigration, Quebec already has tools to choose the immigrants it receives and to make sure they are able to express themselves in French. Of that there is no doubt. Now, extending this requirement to immigrants received under family reunification and to refugees, and making them wait for their full rights as Canadian citizens, that, we find very worrying. As the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie so eloquently said a few weeks ago, applying this requirement to refugees is abusive.
We know full well that immigrants to Quebec want to learn French. Clearly, there was not enough money to ensure that they were given the opportunity to learn French. As members know, I spent many years in Quebec, first in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, then in the Eastern Townships. These are very beautiful regions in Quebec. I find them magnificent. Then I went to Montreal and the Outaouais. During all my years in Quebec, I saw that immigrants were interested in learning French.
Often, there were not enough resources or programs to enable them to learn French. We should focus on having the resources for these people who bring their skills and interests to Quebec and Canada. Refugees are often fleeing horrible situations, human rights violations and war. When they come to Quebec and Canada, they want to contribute. We need to have the resources to enable them to learn French. It is crucial. Saying that if they do not learn French well enough they will be refused Canadian citizenship, the right to vote and any other rights dependent on Canadian citizenship is definitely not the right thing to do. As a progressive party, we believe we need to have the necessary resources to enable them to learn French.
People I have met throughout Quebec want to learn French. There are not enough programs. Let us then implement programs to make it possible for them to learn French.
We support sending the bill back to committee specifically to fix these flaws.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
2022-09-26 11:46 [p.7653]
Madam Speaker, I have been following this morning's debate and, in my view, there seems to be a bit of a cat fight in the House between Bill C-238, which seeks to comply with the will of the Quebec National Assembly on matters relating to Quebec's only official language, and Bill C-13.
I was surprised to hear the parliamentary secretary say earlier that Bill C-238 takes a Quebec-centric approach and fails to respect the rights of francophones outside Quebec, let alone even acknowledge the reality of francophones outside Quebec.
Unlike Bill C-238, what the government is offering us in Bill C-13 is essentially English in Montreal and English in Quebec. It is really important to compare and contrast these two bills. Unlike Bill C-238, Bill C-13 gives federally regulated businesses in Quebec the pretense of choice. It is merely a pretense of choice, giving them the option to operate in one official language or the other. Government members, some of whom have actually stood here in the House and publicly denied that French is in decline, seem to magically believe that a bank headquartered in Toronto, with the majority of its staff in Toronto and 80% of its market in English-speaking Canada, will be naturally inclined to offer services of equal quality in both English and French. Saying something like that is akin to leaving the future of our language in the hands of Michael Rousseau of Air Canada or in the hands of the Royal Bank of Canada, which once was “La Banque royale du Canada”.
The fact is, when these companies located in Quebec are given some semblance of a choice, they choose English. They choose English because it is easier, cheaper and more efficient for their accounting departments. Quebeckers are the ones who end up paying the price. This is happening despite the fact that French as a language of work works. It works for big corporations and multinationals, and for the flagship companies we are so proud of. That same model should apply to our federally governed enterprises.
Can anyone explain to me why the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, one of the largest pension funds in the world, which is governed by Quebec law, is able to operate in French and abide by the Charter of the French Language while making investments around the world? I would like someone to explain to me why the Caisse is able to do that.
Can anyone explain to me why Couche-Tard, headquartered in Laval, Quebec, can operate entirely in French at its headquarters while doing business internationally in pretty much every language of every country in which it does business? Couche-Tard can do that because the right signal and the right message have been sent. Do not try to tell me that an anglophone who goes to a Couche-Tard cannot buy a bag of chips in English.
The model that is working in Quebec should be replicated in businesses under federal jurisdiction. That is hardly small potatoes. We are talking about a major group of businesses with a large number of employees located for the most part in downtown Montreal, working mainly in English in some cases, which contributes to the anglicization of Montreal, its downtown and its cultural life.
Take telecommunications, for example. BCE has more than 14,000 employees, Rogers has 3,000 and Cogeco has 1,700. That means Quebec's telecommunications sector alone employs about 18,000 people. That is equivalent to the population of Sainte‑Anne‑des‑Plaines, a town in my riding. That is a lot of people.
Then there are the banks. National Bank has 10,200 employees. I am not saying that they all necessarily speak English at work. What I am saying is that these thousands of workers have the right to work in French. They should not fall under a legislative regime where if just one person comes from Toronto or if just one person speaks English, everyone switches to English. We know what happens when there are 10 francophones and one anglophone at the table: They speak English over lunch. That is exactly what happens.
Quebeckers must be guaranteed the right to speak French at work. French is the only official and national language of Quebec. It is an inclusive language because it is our common language. The French language allows us to understand one another, integrate and grow together.
Quebec's banking sector alone employs 23,000 people. The aviation and rail transportation sectors would add another 9,000 or 10,000 people. The Liberals' bilingualism model is to linguistic policy what tax evasion is to taxation. It allows these businesses to be different from others. It gives these businesses a free pass and lets them break the rules. Francophones who want to work in telecommunications or in the rail transportation sector are subject to a regime that prevents them from working in Quebec's historical, national language.
The purpose of Bill C‑238 is to implement legislation that acknowledges the reality, the facts, the history and, most importantly, the unanimous will of the Quebec National Assembly. This is a bill that reflects the realities of Quebeckers and addresses the current confusion, which leaves Quebeckers under the impression that they are free to work in French in all federally regulated businesses. One does not need to have visited these businesses to understand that this is not the case.
There is another positive aspect to Bill C-238, specifically asymmetry. It is something that Canadian federalism has rejected all too often. In many provinces, such as Quebec, people's preferences and expectations, history, culture, the working world, practices and legislative agendas are not the same. Language in the workplace must also be dealt with a bit differently.
The principle of asymmetry is accepted in numerous areas, for example, in health care. The very fact that we are a federation implies that different provinces with different needs should work differently. There is also a certain asymmetry in the immigration system. Quebec has a certain number of targets in a certain number of programs, but not in all of them. For some time now, job training has been delegated to the Quebec government through special agreements. Why? Because Quebec has its own business ecosystem, its own community sector, its own institutions, and its own expectations. Bill C-238 does exactly the same thing.
What worries me about some of the speeches I have heard today, including the one from the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a colleague I hold in high regard, is the fact that we are still having debates about whether francophones are or are not disappearing, whether French is or is not declining, and so on. Some Conservatives in the House, including the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, claim to be experts in mathematics. They look at three or four data points, see that such-and-such a statistic shows that there are three or four more francophones in such-and-such a place, and then some claim that there is no loss of francophones and no need to protect French. Just the fact that we are talking about it, that it is being brought up again, and that it is on the agenda demonstrates that there is a problem in Quebec. Can anyone tell me where in Canada there are debates about the disappearance of English? Nowhere. That is because it is obvious that English is not disappearing. French needs to be protected.
Bill C-238 is balanced, respectful, asymmetrical and well-thought-out. It will ensure that the real language of work in Quebec is French. Large companies will still be able to do business in English because that is the language everyone naturally gravitates to in North America. If we do not pass Bill C-238 but do pass Bill C-13, that force of gravity will simply lead us to unilingualism, eventually.
It is important to note, and I appreciated the speech by my colleague from the NDP, that the law applies only to Canadian citizens. Refugees and new immigrants under the family reunification program are exempt. This is an inclusive bill. I congratulate my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît for introducing this bill. Of course, I am looking forward to voting for it.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, as you probably know, the International Day of Older Persons is coming up soon. I would like to take advantage of the debate on my bill to draw everyone's attention to this important day, because the generation before mine did so much for the French language. As a society, it waged major battles. Its story is the story of a nation that owns its uniqueness. It is therefore fitting, on the eve of the International Day of Older Persons, to thank those who have done so much for our national language and who, quite frankly, are just as concerned about the decline of French as we are.
For some, conversations about the decline of French elicit a shrug of the shoulders. Members of Parliament say we are getting too worked up about it. They say we are misinterpreting the statistics, that the indicators do not accurately reflect new linguistic dynamics. It is a tempest in a teapot, they say. That was the message during the first hour of debate on Bill C‑238. However, Statistics Canada shed new light this summer on what is happening with French across Canada and in Quebec.
We knew it, but now it is clear. My colleague, the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, predicted it. No matter what measure we use, we see a decline in French. In Quebec, there are fewer people whose mother tongue is French. The same goes for the primary language spoken at home and the language spoken in public, and that is key. It is a serious slide, to the benefit of English. What will my bill, which I have the honour of introducing on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, do to stop this decline?
It addresses two things: language of work and the language of newcomers. For language of work, Bill C‑238 incorporates the National Assembly's unanimous request to apply Bill 101 to federally regulated businesses. Again, this was a unanimous request. Every Quebec member thought about the issue and came to the same conclusion. I hope that the House will be able to show a bit of consideration for democracy in Quebec.
During the first hour of debate, I heard someone say that Bill C‑13 would be better at protecting French at federally regulated businesses in Quebec. To say that is to flat out say no to the National Assembly. That is serious.
I have to say what I think. I do not trust the federal government to truly fight for the French language. It is the federal government that is responsible for the fact that, as we speak, a francophone veteran has to wait an average of 45 weeks for a decision on their file. An anglophone waits only 24 weeks. In Canada, discrimination based on language is tolerated. It is the federal government that is responsible for the fact that, in the House, ministers hold important briefings on their bills with no consideration for French. It is the federal government that tolerates the fact that it is very difficult for francophones to get top jobs in the government even though many francophones work in the public service. Despite efforts made in recent decades to protect French in Canada, everything is done in English.
I therefore place my trust in the Quebec government to ensure respect for Quebeckers' language rights, which is why Bill 101 must be applied to federally regulated businesses. Bill C‑238 has a second element, namely knowledge of French as a requirement for Quebec citizenship. To be clear, knowledge of French would be a requirement to obtain citizenship for people residing in Quebec. This would change nothing for people claiming refugee status or permanent residency. I think that this is a very reasonable provision.
There are all kinds of ways for people to step up and help stop the decline of the French language. I know that my bill is just one among many others. If I have not been convincing, I ask members to send Bill C‑238 to committee so that experts can come explain why it is so important. That is what Wednesday's vote will be about. My bill represents the first opportunity for all members of Parliament to show that they are concerned about the decline of French. My bill would give Quebec two new tools to help it wage this crucial, magnificent battle for the French language, for its words, its accents and its future. I urge members not to undermine the efforts of such a resilient nation. Let us pass Bill C‑238.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The question is on the motion.
If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I request a recorded division.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 28, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, we are here in Parliament today talking about the affordability crisis that so many Canadians are dealing with, and in a way it feels like progress that we are even talking about this, because most of the debates that happen in Parliament are scheduled by the government, and for two years the government has been ignoring the problem of “Justinflation” that so many Canadians have been dealing with. For two years the government has been ignoring the cost of living crisis, but the election of the member for Carleton as Leader of the Opposition has really focused the mind of the government. Immediately after the Leader of the Opposition took his position, the government started saying that now it needs to try to talk about the affordability issue.
However, unfortunately, the measures the government has put in place are not moving us forward. They are not actually addressing the problem. In fact, in some respects they are making the problem worse. The government still does not appreciate the degree to which it really is its policies, the policies of the current Prime Minister, that have created and continue to create the kind of affordability crisis we are talking about.
At the outset, I think it is important to go over a bit of the history of this. Back in 2020, the member for Carleton, who was at the time our shadow minister for finance, said that Canada was about to face this problem of significant increasing inflation. He said that the significant increase we were seeing in government spending was going to drive inflation. Government being more expensive was going to make it more expensive for everyday Canadians to buy the various goods they needed.
At the time, those concerns were dismissed by the government, including the finance minister, who is still the finance minister. She was more concerned about apparent impending deflation, and that of course turned out to be very wrong. It was clear from the arguments being made at the time, and it is clear now, that when we have the government pouring more and more money out there, borrowing more and spending more but not actually driving increases in production, that is simply going to be inflationary. When we have more money chasing fewer goods, that is going to make everything more expensive.
These arguments were made and have been made over the last two years, but they have been continuously ignored by a government that clearly would rather talk about other issues. It clearly would rather be trying to shift attention away from those things, which really are the fundamental priorities of Canadians.
The government also, first of all, denied it. It was refusing to acknowledge the inflation crisis that it was causing, but as the numbers have come out and as we have seen increasing inflation, it has been harder and harder for the government to deny it. The new form of denial is for them to say, “It is not our fault,” and that they have nothing to do with it. They say that inflation is happening everywhere and is the result of the invasion of Ukraine and other such events, or it is supply blockages and is really an issue of the challenges in global supply chains.
I have a few responses to that. Number one is that this inflation was clearly an issue prior to the invasion of Ukraine, but it was two years ago that we started sounding the alarm on this issue of inflation. Of course, the invasion of Ukraine, as such, started in 2014, but this particular further invasion of Ukraine started six months ago.
It is also hard to make sense of the claim that global supply chains are responsible for instances where the goods are produced here in Canada yet the prices have been going up. Global supply chains can hardly be blamed for the escalating price of property and real estate that makes it increasingly difficult for Canadians in my age demographic and younger to be able to afford housing.
The government is constantly looking for other people to blame. It no doubt will blame the previous government at some point in today's debate, as well as global events that are beyond its control, but the reality is that the government is pursuing policies and pouring more money through borrowing and spending, without proper controls or encouraging more production. These economic policies of the government are driving inflation.
Canada is not the only country with rising inflation, but the point is that other countries that have this problem have pursued the same policies that the Liberal government has pursued. Some countries that are pursuing policies that entail exactly the same problems are getting the same results. However, other countries that are being more prudent and responsible in their spending are not experiencing the same challenges, and that is the reality. The escalating inflation is the result of the economic policies of the government, and it needs to own that challenge.
This is where we have been for the last two years. The government has been trying to distract attention on other issues, but then we have the Leader of the Opposition come into his position and continue his laser focus on issues of affordability and cost of living. Then, right away, the government says that perhaps its needs to talk about this affordability and cost of living thing, so it has tried to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, when we have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The government's approach when it comes to the economy is always the same: more spending, more borrowing and higher taxes. That solution to the inflation crisis is going to make the problem even worse.
The government wants Canadians to believe that their lives will be made better and more affordable by giving away more money. I will share a little story.
I have five children and my three-old son recently came to me with a wad of U.S. dollars. I knew exactly where he got them from, because I had just returned from a trip to Washington and had left the money on the counter. He said, “Daddy, look what I got.” Then he very generously said he would give me one. I told him that was great, but asked him where he got it from. I think that is how Canadians feel when the government offers them more money. The government says that it will be generous and give more money to people, but Canadians want to know where that money has come from.
The government does not generate any money of its own. Government does not work to produce money. It takes money from taxpayers and then redistributes it. Just like my son, who I know is not going out, earning that money and generously offering it to me. I know that he is finding it somewhere around the house. When the government says that it will give more money, it clearly has to find it somewhere around the house, and that is the issue with it. It wants everyone to see how generous it is being, that it is giving away more money. In question period the other day, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the government was giving $1,000 to these families and $500 to those families, but Canadians are asking where the money is coming from.
We have run up more debt under the current Prime Minister than in the entire country's history prior to 2015. That is incredible. That is more debt than in the country's entire history from 1867 up until 2015. This is driving the challenges in the cost of living and inflation. Then the government's solution to the problem it has caused is to do more of the same. We have inflation because of high taxes, high borrowing and high spending and the government tries to solve that problem through more taxes, more borrowing and more spending.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The Liberals' approach is going to cost more, and any of these giveaways that they are promising to Canadians, such as these $500 here and $1,000 there, is real money. This is significant money for people, but I think they also understand that the money comes from somewhere and that those dollars are eaten up every day by higher prices. The same government that is saying that it is going to do more on these spending items is actually eroding the value of that money as it is handing it out.
This is a failed policy. Again, doubling down on the same failed approach of more borrowing, more taxes and more spending is not going to achieve a different result. It is “Justinflation” from start to finish. This is what we predicted two years ago. That is what we are seeing now and that is what is going to be further exacerbated by these new policies.
I note that expert analysis from Canada's leading banks said that these policies from the government are going to be inflationary.
l listened to the leader of the NDP, the coalition partner of the government, talking about this issue on CBC's The House. I think it was this past weekend. He said that the NDP did not agree with the analysis from the big banks. The leading economists in the country are saying that the government's policy is going to be more inflationary. Dismissing that expert analysis because people have an axe to grind with the big banks is really missing the point. The government talks about drawing from experts. It should listen to experts and acknowledge that its policies will continue to be inflationary going forward.
The Conservatives are offering a better approach, a common-sense approach for moving us forward.
First, we need a dollar-for-dollar rule when it comes to new spending. If the government is going to approve new spending of $1, $10, $1 million or $1 billion, it should first find an equivalent amount of savings. If there are new areas needing money to be spent, it should identify areas for those savings, areas to find efficiencies, and then put those dollars to toward the new areas.
There are new emerging priorities. There are always going to be new things needing money, but there are also going to be plenty of examples where dollars that were spent in the past no longer need to be spent or, perhaps, should not have been spent in the first place.
I think about some of the things that the government has spent money on, like the $25 million on the ArriveCAN app, which could have been easily saved. We could talk about the failed $35-billion Infrastructure Bank. We could talk about the subsidy package for private media, which is unfortunately eroding confidence in the media. We could talk about the government's various corporate welfare programs. All of those things have, frankly, hurt Canadians instead of helped them.
There have been many opportunities with respect to wasteful spending within the government or spending that was poorly targeted toward objectives. It is great to find new areas to make investments. Let us apply the same discipline that households and businesses have to apply by having a dollar-for-dollar rule.
A great way to help make life more affordable for Canadians would be to stop increasing taxes. Of course, we would like to see lower tax on this side of the House, but as a first step for the government, stop making the problem worse. Right now, the government has automatic scheduled tax increases for next year. On January 1 of next year, happy new year, and on April 1 of next year, which is sadly not an April fool's joke, tax increases are currently scheduled: increases to the carbon tax, which will drive up the cost of gas, groceries and home heating; increases as well to payroll taxes. Those payroll tax increases will take effect on January 1 and then subsequently the carbon tax hike.
It would be a very basic first step for the government to acknowledge it is in a hole right now, so it should stop digging, stop making the problem worse and stop inflicting more pain on Canadians by raising their taxes. Although that would be against the basic instincts of the government, that would be an important step to take, to recognize there is actually a problem that needs to be solved. If the government is unwilling to listen to us and reverse these planned tax increases, then I think it will be clear that the government's words about affordability are just that, only words. We have seen this before. When Canadians are connecting with and responding to a Conservative message, sometimes the government tries to use the same words. It tries to talk about the same things.
The proof is going to be in the pudding. The proof is going to be whether the government follows through with its planned tax hikes, or whether it continues with its approach of borrowing, spending and taxing always going up, or whether it will listen to Canadians, who are feeling the squeeze as a result of “Justinflation”, stop this damage and try to reverse the planned tax—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-09-26 12:18 [p.7657]
Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I have been somewhat patient with the member. This was the third time the member has made reference to the term “Justinflation”. He is obviously doing something indirectly, knowing full well that he cannot do it directly. It has been ruled on previously by the Speaker that it is an inappropriate phrase, and this is the third time he has used it. I would suggest it is being done intentionally by the member and that he should try to improve by not using that term, which is unparliamentary, as previously ruled.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2022-09-26 12:18 [p.7657]
Madam Speaker, we have heard the member use that term all the time. It is a little lame and I do not think it is appropriate. We can lead a horse to water, but we cannot make it think. The Speaker should ask the member to withdraw his lame comment.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I will remind the hon. member that using that term was already ruled on. I know the member is working it into his speech a little differently, but again I want to caution him on the use of that word.
The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I know the member for Timmins—James Bay is excited to hear the rest of my remarks and it sounds like he is chomping at the bit for the privilege of debate that may be coming. I look forward to his remarks. I would encourage him to make sure he has consulted with the rest of his party around the position he takes on that, because there may be some differences of opinion around that important and sensitive issue.
With respect to the remarks I was making, it is very clear that we have two different approaches in front of us when it comes to responding to the economy. The Liberals have started to try to adopt Conservative language, although not all of it, as maybe the point of order demonstrates. They do not want to acknowledge their own responsibility when it comes to inflation, but they have started to acknowledge that there is a problem of inflation. They just think it has nothing to do with the policies of the government, which obviously stretches credibility.
The government has, in the last two years, pursued a radically different direction. In some respects, it has the last seven years, but it has escalated in the last two years. They have pursued a radically different direction with respect to economic policy. We have gone from tens of billions of dollars of deficit, which felt quite significant, and was quite significant, to hundreds of billions of dollars in terms of deficit, and they want to pretend as if that approach has had no consequences with respect to affordability. The reality is that it obviously has and Canadians are seeing the direct impacts on their lives when it comes to rising costs of all sorts of different goods. The government's efforts to pass the blame for this onto everybody but themselves really stretches credibility. Now their proposals of more taxes, more spending and more borrowing are simply going to make the problem worse.
I appeal to the government, on behalf of my constituents and many Canadians who have raised concerns about affordability, that if it wants to show that it has a modicum of sincerity when it comes to the issue of affordability, it should cancel the planned tax increases for next year. It would be a simple way for the government to show that it is actually listening to Canadians.
I want to talk specifically about the issue of the carbon tax. The Liberals think that a tax increase is a replacement for a meaningful response to the challenges we face with environmental policy. It is clear from various reports that their carbon tax is not working to achieve environmental objectives. Many of the groups that have supported them on this are saying it is a dramatic increase they want in terms of the carbon tax, and the Liberals are planning, I believe, and forecasting it.
Before the previous election, they had promised that they would not increase the carbon tax, but then they did increase it. It is continually going up and up. When is it going to stop? Every time their carbon tax fails to achieve their environmental objectives, instead of changing approach and realizing that we actually need an approach that emphasizes technology instead of taxes, they are just doubling down on the taxation approach. It is just not working; it is not achieving the objectives they said it will.
The government really needs to be responsive to what Canadians are telling it and it needs to be willing to make changes in its direction when the evidence clearly suggests it. I repeat that appeal again: no new taxes. The least the government can do is stop the damage, and that means to commit to not proceeding with the tax increases that it has scheduled for next year.
It is a clear choice and a clear contrast. We have a government that is talking about borrowing, spending and taxation, and that is leading to inflation. Then in the official opposition, we are talking about more freedom, giving individuals back control of their lives, reversing tax increases, lowering taxes and fundamentally replacing big government with big citizens, with a big society, as David Cameron talked about, with the idea that a strong society, with people standing together and supporting each other's needs, is much better at bringing us together as communities and moving us forward than the government. I am proud to continue to champion that vision and make the case for that vision in the House and beyond.
At this point, I would like to move an amendment. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
"the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-31, An Act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, since the bill will fuel inflation and fails to address the government's excessive borrowing and spending that lead to the inflation crisis in the first place.”
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
View Kody Blois Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Kody Blois Profile
2022-09-26 12:25 [p.7658]
Madam Speaker, I had the privilege of sitting in the 43rd Parliament, and I listened to Conservatives saying both that the government was spending too much and that the government needed to spend even more in certain areas.
I heard that reiterated today when this member was talking about debt levels and the need for government to rein in spending. I did not hear him once mention that the government is actually in a surplus position for this current fiscal year. I think that this is really important to recognize, that the government is reining in spending.
However, that is not going to create an affordability element overnight. His proposition is, essentially, that the government should stop spending and that would create affordability.
Why will this member not support targeted measures for vulnerable Canadians? What he is proposing would not have any direct benefit on households for, probably, a couple of years' time.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I will be very clear. I am proposing, fundamentally, as a first step, that the government commit to reversing planned automatic tax increases for next year.
The member thinks that this is not going to matter to Canadians for a long time. It will matter to Canadians right away. Canadians who are struggling to pay for gas, groceries and home heating will immediately be affected by the tax increase that his party wants to bring in next year.
Working Canadians and small businesses will be immediately impacted by the increase in payroll taxes that his government plans to bring in next year. This would be immediate relief to the affordability crisis.
There is more that it needs to do. I talked about the dollar-for-dollar rule, and I support tax reductions to make life more affordable for Canadians. As a basic first step, which would have an immediate impact, I am calling on the government to reverse its planned automatic tax increases for next year. I hope that he will speak for his constituents and join me in opposing those tax increases.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-09-26 12:28 [p.7659]
Madam Speaker, it is quite something to watch the NDP defend the Prime Minister. I would say that undermines their credibility just a bit when they ask questions.
My colleague talked a lot about the fact that it is just inflation and so on and that spending needs to be reduced.
Previously he said that he agreed with increasing health transfers to the provinces and Quebec. I assume that he is aware that in July, not just Quebec, but all the other provinces asked for an increase in health transfers.
Does he agree with that approach?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I would be happy to have that debate in detail at another time. I think that, in front of us, we are discussing the issue of affordability for Canadians. There is a lot of work to be done on the health care front. There is no doubt about that. There have been many challenges that have been exposed through the COVID pandemic that require significant work.
I look forward to further analyzing, discussing and debating those issues when that issue is up for debate in the House.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2022-09-26 12:29 [p.7659]
Madam Speaker, I did not hear very much from the member about his thoughts on dental care. As I am sure he knows, the biggest reason that children under 12 end up in the emergency room is because of dental emergencies. I am sure that he knows that this happens because children do not have access to good preventative dental care.
I am sure that he has heard from his constituents in Alberta, as he is my neighbour in Alberta, that they are very supportive of dental care. In fact, a massive majority of Albertans support having public dental care available to children.
In the last Parliament, I was the only member of Parliament from Alberta who did vote for dental care. He voted twice against dental care. I am wondering if he will be supporting dental care for children who cannot access dental care in this country, to prevent them from having to go to the hospital, to our overburdened emergency rooms, for care.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, respectfully to my colleague, I have a number of points on this. Number one is that we have major challenges in our existing health care system. Rather than address those challenges, the parties of the left—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
If the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby happens to have questions or comments, he should stand at the appropriate time to do so and not interrupt members while they are attempting to answer the question.
The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I do not mind the heckling from the government minister over here. I know he has strong views in support of the Liberal agenda, and he is using his voice in the House to defend Liberal policies.
Many Canadians are disappointed by the fact that the NDP have really sold out. They have sold out on principles they used to articulate. I look at the bill before us, and regardless of what the member for Edmonton Strathcona said previously, she would have to agree that the legislation is not a dental care program. The Liberals have already reneged on their commitment to the NDP, yet the NDP is still persistently supporting and defending the Liberal government. If the NDP is not even going to extract the price that was offered and is still supporting the Liberal government's failed approach, it is a real betrayal of the people the NDP said it would represent.
Canadians are realizing that it is only the Conservative Party that is going to speak on behalf of Canadians and workers, and on behalf of defending our systems and defending Canadians from the attacks on their pocketbooks that we are seeing from the government.
View Mike Morrice Profile
GP (ON)
View Mike Morrice Profile
2022-09-26 12:32 [p.7659]
Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that we are hearing several members describe an increase to the Canada pension plan as a payroll tax.
Putting that aside, I am aware that the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is concerned with increases in government spending. What is also true is that he supported a Conservative motion that would have increased defence spending by over $18 billion. If he is now also supportive a dollar-for-dollar offset, and if he remains supportive of increasing defence spending by $18 billion, could he share where he would cut $18 billion to make room for this new spending?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I have already identified a number of areas of spending that I think are not only not necessary but actually make Canadians worse off. It is a reasonable principle to have dollar for dollar to be able to identify those areas while talking about spending increases.
Just to zero in specifically on the Green Party's emphasis on defence spending, it kind of misses the reality of what is happening in the world right now to pretend that a greater focus on national defence is not necessary. We have the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Canada has been significantly involved in sending weapons to that. We think they should be doing more, in terms of sending support to Ukraine.
However, to pretend that we could do these things, which I think are required for basic justice and our security, without thinking about the cost is a bit naive. The threats we face, and the emerging threats we face, are very significant. I know there are some members who, for philosophical or ideological reasons, are against more spending on defence, but there are realities we face in the word today, and members need to take stock of those realities and acknowledge that, if we are going to be in solidarity with Ukraine, if we are going to protect our security, and if we are going to secure our own Arctic, those things do involve costs, and we have to live up to our obligations.
View Philip Lawrence Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am actually struck by similarities. This member does not have the benefit of the years that I do, but I remember during Pierre Elliott Trudeau's time there was stagflation, which is high inflation, low economic growth and serious economic problems.
My question for the member is this: Is this a return of “Trudeaunomics” or is it “Justinflation”?
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I ruled a little while ago about using that term, and I would like to remind members to be extremely careful given the ruling previously made by the Speaker himself.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, that is the best question I have received all day. I did not live during the tenure of the previous Trudeau government, but I can say that my grandfather made sure that I knew about what happened. My grandfather was working as an engineer in Alberta during the national energy program, which was the last time we had a prime minister named Trudeau, and the last time we saw those kinds of really aggressive attacks on our regional economy.
We have seen a repeat of that dismissive attitude towards Alberta and the energy sector. We are seeing a repeat of those kinds of economic policies when it comes to inflation and making life less affordable for Canadians. The idea could come from various sources, but the bottom line is that these are failing policies. Canadians realize these policies are not working and are asking the government to change its course. The government is now trying to change some of the rhetoric. It is saying it is prepared to talk about these issues, but it is not delivering the results Canadians want.
I will repeat the simple appeal that, if the government really cared about these issues, it would cancel scheduled tax hikes for next year. Will it cancel those tax hikes?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
2022-09-26 12:36 [p.7660]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
As this is the first occasion I have had to speak in the House now that we are back after the parliamentary recess, it is an honour to be back with colleagues. It is great to see people again and I look forward to the work ahead.
I am speaking on the Canada dental benefit today, but I would be remiss if I did not first mention hurricane Fiona. A lot of constituents back home in London will have family members and friends in areas impacted. All members of Parliament are thinking of those impacted, but for members of Parliament from the Atlantic provinces, including our Minister of National Revenue, who represents, among other places, the Îles de la Madeleine, this is a tragedy that has unfolded and our hearts go out to all impacted.
We have in front of us a truly historic bill, a historic bill that has been called for from people across the country for a long time. The proposed Canada dental benefit is the result of a great deal of work that has been carried out, not just in this House but across the country by activists focusing on social policy, going back decades. It represents the culmination of that work, and it is the first stage of it.
It would apply, in this first instance, to children under 12. In order to understand the importance of it, let me take a step back and put things into a broader context. I do so by referencing a philosopher my Conservative colleagues are very fond of quoting. Usually they quote him entirely out of context, but it is important to put on the record the thoughts of Adam Smith and apply it to this particular social policy. It is something that is not often done, but it puts things into good perspective.
Adam Smith said, “No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” What he meant by that is that, when a society experiences and sees poverty in ways that limit its members from fulfilling their true potential as human beings, then that society cannot be said to be thriving, successful or prosperous.
That is a timeless insight and universal in its validity, whether it is Canadian democracy we are talking about or beyond. I use it as a way of understanding the importance of this policy innovation, the Canada dental benefit, because over 30% of Canadians do not have dental insurance. In fact, in 2018, over 20% said they did not see their dentist because the visit would be too expensive.
We are talking about kids here, who are perhaps the most vulnerable in our population. These are kids under 12 whose parents could not afford to take them to the dentist. Canada remains one of the most prosperous countries in the world, but when one has an outcome like that, it is tragic, it is unacceptable and it requires a government response. I am glad to see the government is moving in this direction.
As a result of Bill C-31, 500,000 children would be supported. Kids under 12 would be helped via a tax-free benefit. To get technical, and just so we are on the record with that, it would see support go in three different categories. Children under 12 with family incomes of less than $70,000 would see $650 per year per child. Children in families with incomes ranging from $70,000 and $79,000 could receive $390 per year per child, and in families where incomes range from $80,000 to $89,000, a child could receive $260 per year.
The Canada Revenue Agency would administer the benefit and it would be available online via My Account, or on the phone if that is the option available for individuals. There would be an attestation process individuals would need to go through. For example, they would need to attest they are not already receiving private dental insurance and that the benefit would be used for dental expenses. They would also need to keep receipts.
There are also other steps they would need to ensure. They would need to have filed their taxes in 2021. When applying, they would need to confirm they are the parent in fact receiving the Canada child benefit for their child, and they would need to set up direct deposit.
The fact that it is administered by CRA is a very good thing because throughout the pandemic we saw the CRA and its public servants step up and support Canadians in need, including Canadian individuals, families and business. CRA, after all, was the agency tasked with the responsibility of overseeing and administering the various emergency response programs. Those programs proved absolutely vital.
Sometimes we hear criticism, particularly from our Conservative friends. They cast aspersions on the programs that were made available. They voted for them, but now, all of a sudden, they are having second thoughts. It is important for Canadians, and all of us in this House, to think about what would have happened to the country if it were not for programs like the Canada emergency response benefit. If it were not for the Canada emergency wage subsidy or the rental subsidy, what would have happened to businesses?
Those programs among others, of which there were several, kept the country going during the worst economic crisis that we have seen since the Great Depression. That is a fact. I hear my Conservative friends at length these days go after these particular programs. In fact, I worked with the new leader on the finance committee and I remember that, at the time when we were tasked with the responsibility of looking at the emergency response programs and understanding how they would work, he called these “big, fat government programs”. He went on record at a famous press conference to say that the Conservatives were not in favour of such programs. The Conservatives did vote in favour because there was enormous public pressure to go in that direction. However, now, taking on a sort of populist hue, although I am not sure what is going on, the Conservatives continue to speak out against those particular programs.
In any case, the benefit itself is reflective of a view of government that says that government has a responsibility to help individuals in need. Again, 500,000 kids would benefit as a result of what is happening here. I heard my colleague opposite in the Conservative Party just a few moments ago go on at length about how he is opposed to Bill C-31.
Let us look at it another way. What about all those kids who are currently not getting support who would get support? What would they prefer? Would they prefer that we ignore that child who has a genuine health care need? That is not just insensitive. It is cruel because it is proper to view dental care as health care. We have a responsibility from so many different perspectives to look at these issues in a compassionate way. That child in need is our collective responsibility.
In Parliament, we are looking after our constituents. That is what we are sent here to do. In my own community, there are kids whose parents cannot afford to take them to the dentist. I gave the number earlier that about 20% of Canadians, at least in 2018, said they could not afford to go to the dentist and that would include taking their kids to see the dentist. That is not acceptable and that is why this bill is absolutely suited to the time.
The other thing I need to put on the record is that we have a view in this bill that takes very seriously that individual rights matter, certainly, but that individual rights unfettered have no place in a modern democratic society that aims for prosperity. The aim absolutely is to put individual rights front and centre. Individuals, including kids, have the right to health care and when they do not our society is diminished. As Adam Smith rightly said, if we have poverty in society that limits people from ultimately fulfilling their true potential, then that society is absolutely not what it can be. The society does not have the ability to live up to its potential and that applies to its citizens as well. Therefore, when kids cannot get dental care, we are all brought down as a result.
I appreciate the opportunity, Madam Speaker. I will stop there and I look forward to questions.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2022-09-26 12:46 [p.7661]
Madam Speaker, I have two questions for the parliamentary secretary.
My first question is as a person who was formerly on a board of a homeless shelter. We are seeing across the country and in my riding an increase in homelessness and an affordable housing crisis. How is $500 going to help the many people who are losing their homes in this affordability crisis? It is more like a band-aid on a gaping wound.
Second, my understanding of the deal that the NDP signed with the Liberal Party was that the Liberals were going to put in a dental care program that would cover everyone. This one covers children under 12. With respect to the amounts we are talking about, I just got my teeth cleaned and it was almost $300. Seventy per cent of the folks are covered by programs and the rest who are on social assistance already receive this. How is this anything like the promise that was made? Why did the government break its promise to its partners?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
2022-09-26 12:47 [p.7661]
Madam Speaker, if the Conservatives are now coming on board calling for a full-blown dental program, that would be welcomed, but somehow I think that is not the case.
As I said at the outset of the speech, perhaps the member was not in the chamber at the time, this is the case in the first instance. It applies to children under 12 in the first place, then to kids under 18, and by 2025 it will be a full program. We are working toward this incrementally, one could say, but from a Conservative perspective that would be a good thing. We will get there. We will get to a full-scale program.
As far as homelessness is concerned, I would simply point out to the member the number of investments that have been made in southwestern Ontario, where I know she is from. I have announced a number of projects certainly in London. We are seeing people housed who were not previously housed. We have more work to do. I hope the Conservatives come on board finally and recognize the importance of it.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
2022-09-26 12:48 [p.7662]
Madam Speaker, I would like to know whether the parliamentary secretary, who seems to fancy himself as having some sort of monopoly on empathy for children, realizes that Bill C‑31 does not provide dental care. In fact, it denies children in Quebec the increase in the Canada child benefit and makes families have to wait for the Canada Revenue Agency, wait for officials, and wait for forms to be entitled to a simple increase in the Canada child benefit. That is what the bill does.
If children's health is truly important to him, he would be in favour of increasing health transfers to the provinces and Quebec so that the existing Quebec dental insurance plan can be improved.
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
2022-09-26 12:49 [p.7662]
Madam Speaker, there is so much there I do not know where to begin.
With respect to the Canada child benefit, and I know the hon. member is concerned with poverty in Canada, it has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. I will put that to the member if he was not already aware.
With respect to his understanding of how this particular dental benefit will work with respect to kids, I think there is some misunderstanding there. As a result of the Canada dental benefit, 500,000 kids will be supported. I look forward to hearing the member's thoughts further. I think he has some concerns with respect to provincial jurisdiction, but that is a matter that I am sure he and his party will continue to take up.
With respect to health transfers, I leave that to the government and the Minister of Health to take up in due course in the upcoming weeks and months, as I think will be the case.
View Lisa Marie Barron Profile
NDP (BC)
View Lisa Marie Barron Profile
2022-09-26 12:50 [p.7662]
Madam Speaker, as the member knows, 50% of low-income Canadians have no dental coverage. In preschool children, the most common surgery performed in pediatric hospitals is for dental decay, and poor oral health in seniors increases the risk of pneumonia.
Does the member agree that preventable dental care is long overdue due to continuous Liberal and Conservative inaction and would prevent costly and serious health conditions?
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Peter Fragiskatos Profile
2022-09-26 12:50 [p.7662]
Madam Speaker, I think what we have with respect to this bill is one of the greatest advances in social and health policy the country has seen. Therefore, I applaud colleagues in the NDP for helping to raise this issue. I know Liberal colleagues on this side of the House have been advocating for something like Bill C-31 for a long time. In the first place we see kids supported. We are going to see that expanded. When oral care is put front and centre, a person's overall health is certainly ensured. I look forward to hearing more from the member in the coming weeks on these issues.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, this is one of the important debates we have had over the years in the House of Commons. We can think back to more than 50 years ago when the Tommy Douglas health care bill establishing universal health care in this country was debated. It was an NDP initiative. The government of the day was forced to put it on the floor of the House of Commons. Canadians, 50 years later, have benefited from that enormously. In fact, as members are well aware, when Canadians are asked what institution in Canada they are most strongly supportive of, it is universal health care.
I was pleased, and my colleague from Timmins—James Bay was in the House as well, when we debated the famous Jack Layton budget. A former Liberal government was forced, by the NDP's presence in the House and a minority government status, to gut and rip up a budget that would have given massive tax breaks, which the Conservatives and Liberals favour, to big corporations and the ultrarich, and instead invest that money in public transit, education, seniors, families and housing. That was an important debate as well
The debate today is very similar because this is an NDP initiative and an NDP bill. There is no doubt. What it would do is establish the principle of dental care in this country and establish supports for Canadians who are struggling to pay their rents and keep a roof over their head.
First, I will talk about the dental care provisions. The reality is that Canadians right across this country are suffering from a lack of dental care. It has been pointed out in the House by the member for Burnaby South and by many others that over a third of Canadians have no dental insurance. That means there are millions of Canadians who cannot afford to visit a dentist.
I know the results of this. I have met with constituents who have teeth that are literally rotting out of their mouth, and we know that the most common surgery performed on preschool children at most pediatric hospitals in Canada is treatment for dental decay. We know as well, from emergency room physicians, that hundreds of millions of dollars of expenses come from Canadians who do not have access to dental care and have to go to emergency rooms because of dental emergencies and the intense pain of not having dental support. Emergency room physicians know that without dental care in place for all Canadians, there will continue to be a cost to the health care system, but more importantly, an intense pain and suffering that is not needed. Instead, we can take up this NDP initiative and put in place dental care.
As members well know, the provisions of the bill start to lay the foundation around dental care and provide supports to half a million Canadian children under the age of 12 who do not have access to dental care now. The Conservatives have just moved a motion to gut the bill, which means they disagree with ensuring half a million Canadian children have access to dental care and that families receive the money so they can do the cleaning and maintenance to avoid the intense pain and suffering that comes from dental decay. Conservative MPs are going to have to answer to that on their doorsteps and will have to explain why they are opposed to dental care.
As members know, what the NDP has forced as well is a commitment by the government to next year roll that out to youth under the age of 18, seniors and people with disabilities. In the final year, the full program would be brought to bear for all families across the country. The reality is that dental care will make a big difference for Canadians. Tommy Douglas said in this House more than a half a century ago that the intent of putting in place universal health care was to ensure that we had health care from the top of our heads to the soles of our feet. The member for Burnaby South has said that very articulately many times in this House and that what we need is a full health care system.
Dental care is a fundamentally important component of that, and I am profoundly dismayed that Conservative MPs are not standing with, in each case, the 30,000 constituents in their ridings who do not have access to dental care. That is the average across the country. There are about 30,000 such Canadians in each and every riding across the country, which is millions if we put the 338 ridings together, and we have Conservative MPs saying they are not going to support that access to dental care.
What profound disrespect that is to Canadians in their ridings, the Conservatives' constituents and bosses, who vitally need access to dental care and need that foundation. Those initial payments are for families that have children 12 and under. They need that dental care, dental support and dental maintenance.
The second component of the bill deals with the housing supplement. About 1.7 million Canadians would receive a housing supplement and housing support so they can pay their rent and keep a roof over their head. The new Conservative leader, the member for Carleton, likes to point out that housing prices have doubled under the Liberals, which is true, but what he fails to point out is that housing prices doubled under the dismal decade of the Harper government. We have actually seen, over the past dismal decade and a half, housing prices quadruple.
Now, I do not understand how the Conservatives will campaign in the next election. Is the member for Carleton going to say, “Well, vote for us because the Liberals have done just as badly as we did”, or “Vote for us because the Liberals have handed out just as much to the banks as we did”? With the incredible extent of overseas tax haves, would the Conservatives say, “Vote for us because the Liberals have been just as bad on overseas tax havens”?
The reality is that the Liberal government has, at least, permitted itself to be forced, prodded, pushed and pulled by the NDP to put in place rental supplements that will help people and put in place dental supports, the foundation of dental care in this country. These are important steps, and this is why we are proud to have this NDP legislation being brought forward. It would make a difference in the lives of Canadians. It would make a difference in the lives of families. For the 1.7 million Canadians who are struggling to pay their rent right now as rent increases, this would help put food on the table and keep a roof over their head.
However, if the thought is that NDP members will stop there and rest on their laurels, members know that is not the case. We believe firmly and fundamentally that we need to keep pushing on behalf of Canadians, and we will continue to push NDP initiatives on the floor of the House of Commons. We believe in a health care system that is comprehensive. We believe in restoring health care funding. We have also pushed the government, and have had some success, on building new, affordable co-operative and social housing. For a decade and a half, both under the Conservatives and the Liberals, we have had hollow promises. Now, as a result of the NDP initiative, there will be tens of thousands of units of affordable housing where rent would be capped at 30% of a person's income. That is fundamental.
As members well know, in the past, when we had a national housing program and had provisions for the federal government to actually fund housing and ensure co-operative and social housing, we found that homelessness in this country had almost disappeared. However, then we found otherwise under successive governments. It started with the Paul Martin government, which gutted the national housing program, but we never forget that it was Conservative governments that maintained that irresponsible act. What we have found over those subsequent decades is that more and more Canadians are finding it difficult to even keep a roof over their head. The rental supplement will certainly help, but we need to go further. The NDP has pushed the government to go further to ensure that we actually have in place the provision of affordable housing that would allow for Canadians, particularly of lower income, to have a roof over their head throughout their lifetime.
These are important initiatives, and these are things we will continue to push. We will not stop, because we believe that Canadians really need a party that is going to fight for them in the House of Commons. That is what the 25 NDP MPs have done. We have delivered it this time with this bill, but we will continue to push on behalf of Canadians, who are our constituents and bosses, so that we get more things done, because Canadians need help at this critical time. Canadians need support to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, and they can depend on the member for Burnaby South and the NDP caucus to continue to fight so they can do just that.
View Kody Blois Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Kody Blois Profile
2022-09-26 13:01 [p.7663]
Madam Speaker, I agree with the majority of what my hon. colleague had to say today. Of course, he talked about dental care, particularly for those who are most vulnerable, and I could not agree more, frankly. I think it is an important public policy. It is shared between our two caucuses, and it is great to see that spirit of collaboration here in Parliament.
I am not privy to the ongoing working relationship between some of the ministers on this side of the House and the NDP, but it seems that the NDP wants a permanent federally delivered program. My question for the member is not on the merits of dental care but on the delivery. Why does the NDP feel that it should be administered by the Government of Canada when there are existing programs at the provincial level that are focused? Why not work with each province to make sure the outcomes we want at the federal level can be delivered by the provinces, which are closest to health care, and the providers that want to see this good work completed?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, the bill is very clear that this is a federal initiative. The reason it is so important to do that, as members know, is to ensure there are supports right across the country for dental care. What this means is that half a million kids and their families will have access to payments for teeth cleaning to avoid dental decay and for fillings, ensuring there is proper dental oral health for all those kids. That will extend to people with disabilities, seniors and all families.
The alternative would be, as we have seen over the last seven years, consulting in circles for years and nothing being done. That is why the NDP pushed for a federal program. We are happy to see in this bill that we are laying the foundation for that and families will benefit.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2022-09-26 13:03 [p.7664]
Madam Speaker, I just listened to the hon. member speak about everything except what is happening right now with how much Canadians have to face. They are paying extra taxes, and with inflation, everything is expensive. It seems like he spent time giving himself credit and attacking the Conservatives, when he should have probably focused on examining this and telling Canadians that he does understand what is happening right now regarding inflation and the cost of living, which is going through the roof.
Why did the member not talk about cutting taxes to help Canadians? Why did he not speak about reducing inflation so Canadians can have better ways of living, instead of attacking and attacking and giving himself all the credit?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I do not really know what to make of that. We have Conservatives in the House who say they are concerned about the cost of living for Canadian families, but they are not going to accept dental care and are not going to support it. In fact, they moved a motion to gut the bill, which would help families pay for their children's dental expenses. How can they square that hypocrisy?
We have Conservatives standing in this House saying they are going to cut back pensions and that they do not want the CPP to be a sound foundation of support for people's retirements. I remember the Harper government saying to 65-year-old and 66-year-old Canadians that they were going to rip off their pensions and take them away.
Mr. Ziad Aboultaif: That is misleading.
Mr. Peter Julian: Canadians judged them on that in 2015 and that is why the Conservatives remain in opposition.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
There is a point of order, but I do want to remind the hon. member for Edmonton Manning that he had an opportunity to ask a question. When the answer was being given, he should not have been interrupting. I hope the hon. member has a point of order and not a point of debate.
The hon. member for Edmonton Manning.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2022-09-26 13:05 [p.7664]
Madam Speaker, it is a point of order. I did not mean to do so, but it is misleading and I would ask the member to apologize—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
That is a point of debate.
The hon. member for La Pointe-de-L'Île for a brief question.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2022-09-26 13:05 [p.7664]
Madam Speaker, I would like to know what my colleague thinks of the government's refusal to increase health transfers, which would allow Quebec and provincial governments to improve dental care.
How will this plan not penalize Quebec and New Brunswick, which already have programs to cover dental care?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, as the member for Burnaby South and the member for Vancouver Kingsway both said, the NDP has always pushed for increased health transfers. I can say with absolute certainty that if the NDP were in government, if we had enough members to form the government, we would have already increased health transfers. How would we pay for it? That is a no-brainer. We are losing $25 billion a year to tax havens; we could that money for health transfers. That is what the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said. We believe that investing in health is more important. We need to increase funding for our health care system to ensure an excellent system for all Canadians.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-09-26 13:07 [p.7664]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle.
We are hearing all sorts of things today, but let us get back to the basics of Bill C‑31. This essentially provides financial support to the parents of children under 12. It is not a dental care plan. I will illustrate that later.
It also creates a rental housing benefit. The Bloc Québécois is not against the principles of the bill in general. However, there are important problems that will need to be carefully examined. I hope that in committee, the parties will be open to the idea of supporting an increase in payments for health care.
The first problem I see is that, as I mention all the time, health falls under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. They are the ones that have the expertise. As recently as July, they reiterated their request that the federal government increase health transfers to cover 35% of spending, which amounts to $6 billion for Quebec. That is a lot of money every year. When I hear about small, one-time, stopgap measures for housing, for example, and I hear politicians delivering somewhat rehearsed speeches about what they are getting done, to me, it is but a drop in the bucket. Let us get serious and increase health transfers.
My colleagues have become accustomed to my saying this, but I want to quote the Canadian Dental Association: “The single best way to quickly improve oral health and increase access to dental care is to invest in, and enhance, existing provincial and territorial dental programs.” It is talking about investing in provincial and territorial programs. “These programs are significantly underfunded and are almost exclusively financed by provincial and territorial governments.” The association points out that it is “important to ensure that any new initiatives do not disrupt access to dental care for the large majority of Canadians who already have dental coverage”. That is coming from the experts and not just the Bloc.
I had the privilege of replacing my colleague from Mirabel at committee last week. We heard from Ms. Tomkins and discussed this point. The committee heard from many people, including Mr. Ungar, a researcher attending as an individual, who explained the importance of keeping decision-making in the regions, close to the people with needs because the needs are not the same in Nunavut, Ontario or Quebec. That is why there are local governments that are in the best position to make these decisions. The greater the distance between the decision-making and the need, the less appropriate decisions will be.
On the second point, there is no evidence in Bill C‑31 that this money will go to dental care. It pains me to have to point that out in the House. However, I am somewhat surprised that I am one of only a few people talking about it this morning. A parent will be able to submit a dental bill for $100 and automatically receive a cheque for $650, with no further follow-up. That is not necessarily what we want. Imagine the amount of paperwork this could create. Plus, it allows another level of government to dabble in an area that Quebec is already responsible for.
It is so tiring to come to Parliament and see how far Canada lags behind Quebec in social matters and to see that we are always paying for others.
In 1974, Quebec insured children under the age of 10. It is not perfect, and we would never claim that it is, but it started in 1974. I think Canada is behind.
In 1979, we also gave support to people on social assistance. Now, the great, all-knowing Canada is going to swoop in and add another program on top of that, using our taxes, but distributing money elsewhere, not just in Quebec. Quebec has already figured out what it is doing with its half of the budget.
Once Quebeckers comprehend how much we manage to do with half a budget, they will realize we should be using our whole budget and claiming political independence to get rid of useless duplication. There is a reason the Bloc Québécois wants independence, and it is not because it is cute.
I have already moved on to the third item. I got a little carried away again, but it is important to tell it like it is.
This bill is more about politics and optics than anything of substance. The Liberal government is stubbornly rejecting the opposition's ideas. It has no respect for the opposition; all it cares about is a majority. How did it get that majority?
First, it called an election in the middle of a pandemic, which was a bust. That did not work; we wound up with the same government. It activated Plan B and got into bed with the NDP, making promises to that party it never intended to keep. I am sad for the New Democrats. This benefit is for children. It is not dental insurance.
Members of the House are supposed to be able to read. People read documents properly. I would like people to open their eyes to what is going on.
Earlier this summer, Liberal ministers realized that there was absolutely no way they could set up a universal dental insurance plan across Canada by year's end. That was the NDP's fabricated ultimatum, so there were supposedly threats issued that I do not believe meant a thing because I will be very surprised the day the NDP votes against the government in this Parliament.
The NDP led the government to believe that their agreement was hanging in the balance. So the government is proposing a phoney monetary benefit. It is pretending to give money for dental care. In the meantime, young people and seniors will not necessarily get more care.
Ironically, the day the bill was introduced, there was a media release by different groups that were on the Hill, including unions, people who represent the less fortunate and seniors groups. They told us that even though they all agree with the government offering dental care to children, the people who are having the most difficulty affording dental care are seniors. There is still nothing for seniors.
I would like the people from the NDP to explain that to me. Maybe I will get some answers in the questions they ask, but I would love to chat a bit.
What are they doing about increasing old age pensions for seniors to help them afford groceries and pay their rent? What is being done about that? Is that seriously being traded for a single $500 payment for housing? During an election campaign or in front of the cameras they will make fine speeches about how they took action, when these are totally ineffective half-measures.
Let us look at what the federal government is actually doing. The federal government's approach suggests that it alone has the corner on the truth. It is imposing conditions and has decided to take over health care, despite the 1867 Constitution that it signed behind our backs. It is all-knowing.
If the government is indeed all-knowing, why can it not manage its EI program properly? Why did the EI temporary measures expire yesterday? Why has the minister done nothing over the past year, despite her mandate letter to improve this program and adequately protect our workers? No, the government would rather continue to steal from people. At present, EI pays just four out of 10 workers. If that is not stealing, I do not know what is.
Let us talk about passports. What a mess. That falls under federal jurisdiction. The government needs to take action and do something. In early July, my office was dealing with about 15 passport cases a day. I have three employees in my office, four, including the person working in Ottawa. Just with immigration delays and border problems, I think the government has a lot on its plate.
Yesterday I watched Tout le monde en parle. They had people on to tell their stories. Incidentally, I have a lot of respect these people. I think they showed incredible strength. Honestly, in their situation, I do not think I would have been able to speak so calmly about my child having been killed. That is what we are talking about. Faced with this, the Liberal government has introduced a bill that will reduce the number of legal guns while doing absolutely nothing about the illegal ones.
Start by doing what you are supposed to do. We, in Quebec, will take care of the rest. Give us our money.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
First, I must remind the member that he is to address questions and comments or his speech through the Chair and not directly to the government.
Second, he used the word “steal”. It is really not accepted parliamentary language here in the House. I would therefore ask him to be careful of what he says in his speech.
The hon. member for Kings—Hants.
View Kody Blois Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Kody Blois Profile
2022-09-26 13:17 [p.7666]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. opposition colleague for his speech this afternoon.
I understand the principle of provincial and territorial jurisdictions, in particular with respect to dental care. However, I do not understand why my colleague is against direct payments for rent support and dental care support until a potential agreement is signed with our partners in the confederation regarding the implementation of this strong federal program.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-09-26 13:18 [p.7666]
Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to rephrase the last sentence of my speech. I urge Parliament to mind its own business and look after its own affairs, instead of interfering with the provinces. I think that is worded better. I will be careful in the future.
Now, to answer the question from my esteemed colleague, I would say that we are not against the bill. We will vote in favour of the bill at second reading so that it can be studied. However, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I hope that the government will be open to making amendments so that we can support the bill.
Yes, children need care, but, as I said, we already have a program. We obtained the right to opt out of the day care program with full compensation. That was just before the election and, as we know, that can sometimes change decisions. This is one unfortunate aspect of politics in Canada.
Since the government made an agreement for day care, why not do the same for dental care, since we already have our own program?
We are not against the direct payment for rent support, but this measure is just a drop in the bucket.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2022-09-26 13:19 [p.7666]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech. I am not certain that the $500 is an effective solution for those who cannot afford their rent.
Does the member believe that it is a good initiative?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-09-26 13:19 [p.7666]
Madam Speaker, as I said, it is obviously just a drop in the bucket. It adds up to $42 a month. For someone paying $1,500 or $1,600 a month in rent, it does not make a big difference. However, when people are in need, every cent they receive can give them a little bit of breathing room. That is why we have mixed feelings about it. Some members are saying that this changes nothing, that it does not address the problem, but if we can give $500 to people whose rent represents more than 30% of their income, I think we should do it.
However, that is not all we should be doing. We should also be building housing. I do not know how many of us have ever taken economics courses, but it seems to me that the basic rules of supply and demand are not difficult to understand. There is a shortage of housing, so we should invest in construction. That will lessen the pressure on housing. This will require action, however, and we are faced with a government that is doing nothing.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated my hon. colleague's speech. I hold him in high regard. I serve with him on the agriculture committee.
He asked, during his speech, why seniors are not being covered. I would just encourage him to read the full text of the agreement. He would see that seniors are the next group who will be covered as part of the terms of this agreement.
I guess my frustration is that we have waited for so long for dental care to be an issue, and I know that the children in my riding need this help now.
He has seen the statistics. He knows that this is a desperate need in his community and in communities right across Canada. Would he agree, at least at this time, in this moment, that parliamentarians can come together and actually deliver something that Canadian children, Quebec children, need, so that their health outcomes do not get worse?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2022-09-26 13:21 [p.7667]
Madam Speaker, I humbly thank my colleague, whom I hold in high regard as well. As I said in my speech, we are not against funding for dental care. What we are saying is that Quebec already has a system.
The government is just adding another layer with more paperwork. It will cost more than we get in return. The government seems to be randomly throwing money out there. We want to see things done properly. We want higher transfers for Quebec, which already has a program and can manage on its own.
Let me reassure my colleague that we have the same fundamental objective. This is a need, and we need our money. That is what we have been saying for quite some time.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I will start by saying I gave myself a little challenge, and this is my first time giving a real speech with only a few notes. This is also my first speech of the session. I hope that we can all be productive here. We hear a lot about listening, but I want to focus on active listening. In other words, members who are here in the chamber must truly be present. Let us listen to one another, take notes and make sure that we understand things before debating. Otherwise, what is the point of being here today?
I am obviously going to be talking about Bill C‑31, and in particular part 2, but first, I want to say that my thoughts are with those on the Magdalen Islands and the north shore. We stand with them. I visited the Maritimes this summer and this has made me emotional. I urge everyone watching us now to be very generous.
I now want to talk about part 2 of the bill, which has to do with housing.
I have mostly focused on the details of the bill, but I would like to say that before becoming an MP in 2019, I had already been working in the social development field in my community for many years as the director of a community development corporation.
A community development corporation is a form of association that brings together all the organizations that work for the community. Collectively, we sounded the alarm over ten years ago. In fact, we sounded that alarm just when the funds and the agreements that had been in place before no longer existed. There is a reason why Quebec decided to roll up its sleeves and help Quebeckers.
When I arrived in the House in 2019, my first speech dealt specifically with my concerns regarding what I had observed on the ground. Across Canada, including in Quebec, we have seen an increase in the number of people who are homeless or living in vulnerable situations.
Yes, some programs have helped people cope with our northern winters, but that does not change the fact that the growing number of vulnerable people is a problem.
My colleagues from other ridings and I have talked about how often people turn to us. People want to know what is going to happen a month from now, because they have two children and they have looked everywhere but are struggling to find a place to live.
One person who comes to mind is Mélanie, who was wondering what she was supposed to do. The only place where she could live was 40 kilometres from her work, but gas cost more than she would ever have thought possible.
What can we do?
I think we need to take another look at what the government did not do. How could it have done more than provide this rental housing top-up, which is just a band-aid solution?
A break on the rent provides a little relief, but it is a drop in the bucket considering everything else people have to deal with when things move fast and it is hard to cope.
Yes, that $500 will help people. My colleague mentioned earlier that it adds up to $42 a month. I own rental housing, so I am acquainted with this subject. Supply and demand have completely changed the availability of housing, especially affordable housing. We all know rent has gone up a lot.
This measure may help, but, as I said earlier, there is something else we have to keep in mind. When people find a place that meets their basic needs but is not near where they need to go, they have to spend more of their household income on transportation. That is a problem.
I am concerned about the impact of that and about availability.
I think all members are well aware of the situation, especially in Quebec. People reach out to our offices, and we often give them the tools they need to get the money they are entitled to, even though they do not always realize it exists. There is work to be done in that regard. It is our job to let people know that we can help them. There is no denying that this bill is going to pass. Of course, we cannot be against doing the right thing, but we have to think about what happens next.
Earlier, my colleague mentioned the need to take the bull by the horns. Some will want to talk about the labour shortage and will wonder how we can get this done. We have to start somewhere. Student co-operatives are being set up, and landlords in different municipalities are eager to contribute, so I think now is the right time. Funding must be accessible and available. We cannot wait two years for a Canada-Quebec agreement, since we are wondering if it is even necessary, given that we already have measures for our citizens.
Yes, it is necessary and it is even urgent. I was looking at the numbers for access to housing. Our performance as a G7 country is especially embarrassing. This is not the first time I have had the opportunity to talk with people abroad. When we look at the picture of who we are, I am quite often embarrassed. I tell them that we are going to address the problem because we know the situation is tough. According to the Association des professionnels de la construction et de l'habitation du Québec, there is a shortfall of between 40,000 and 60,000 housing units in Quebec. Those figures are from 2016. It is unbelievable.
My colleague next to me represents the riding of Mirabel. That town has seen one of the largest population increases. We are welcoming, but where are we going to house everyone?
Are the situations we are experiencing as homeowners normal? Three years ago, I received a phone call from an individual who told me he wanted to add his name to a waiting list because he really wanted to rent my apartment. He liked the location because it was near his work and his children's school. I had to ask him what he was talking about. He told me that my renter was leaving the following month. I learned that people wanted to add their names to a waiting list before my renter even notified me that he was leaving. I was not given three month's notice. In light of all this, I hope that action will be taken on things people have been calling for in the House, for which plenty of arguments have been made and that have repercussions on our constituents.
I would even say to members that these are the people who voted for us and we must not forget about them. I am sad when I return to my riding and have to talk about what we did during the week and what action we will be taking. I feel that this place has not acknowledged that the housing crisis is a real crisis because, had we done so, we would have taken action. During the pandemic, we demonstrated that we really can act quickly and effectively during a true crisis. That is why I am asking members to make decisions and do something for our people who are currently at risk of becoming homeless. That is all I have to say for today.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-09-26 13:31 [p.7668]
Madam Speaker, I like to think of Bill C-31 as progressive legislation that will ultimately meet the very high demand out there. Providing support for children under the age of 12 to get dental care, I think, will bring about profound and positive change for many children who ultimately end up in surgery situations or having to go into hospital because of not getting dental work, as an example.
For clarity purposes only, I wonder if the member could just give a clear indication about this. The previous speaker implied that they would be voting in favour. Am I to understand that the Bloc members are going to be voting against the amendment and then in favour of the bill itself?
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question.
I really talked about just part 2. We will obviously be supporting this proposal.
We are extremely worried because we do not want Quebec and New Brunswick, which have already taken the initiative to help these people, to be penalized. That aspect worries us.
As my colleague stated, helping people who cannot afford dental care is one thing. However, this bill is not proposing a dental care program. In my opinion, as the bill states, it is a cost of living relief measure.
View Michael Barrett Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, we have seen over the last two years that the Prime Minister has refused to meet with the premiers who have concerns about addressing health care. Perhaps if the Prime Minister had taken those meetings, he would have learned that all provinces, except for one province and one territory, offer dental care support for children in low-income families. In addition, 70% of Canadians already have dental care.
Does the hon. member think that if the Prime Minister had had those consultations and negotiated with the provinces in good faith, we could have addressed other affordability issues Canadians are facing? Does he think that perhaps instead of adding new spending that would not help children and would not help provinces because it is duplicating programs that already exist, it could have eased some of the inflationary burden that is eating away at people's ability to pay their rent and provide care for their children every month?
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, when one is in a relationship and must live together, one will obviously find all kinds of ways to maintain that relationship.
I sincerely believe that the wording of this bill is all for show. That is why we are talking about dental care and the details on how this measure will be funded.
As my colleague pointed out, this is ultimately a supplementary benefit. This is not the much-awaited outcome of the NDP-Liberal coalition.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2022-09-26 13:35 [p.7668]
Madam Speaker, I remember when Stephen Harper went to the World Economic Forum to announce that he was ripping seniors off of their pensions. He did not tell seniors in Canada, but he told the World Economic Forum.
Now the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is pushing a motion to cut off dental care benefits for children under 12. At least we are seeing a consistency with the Conservatives. They are going to kick seniors to the pavement, and they are going after children.
I know the member is normally pretty lame in what he brings forward, but I think this really sends a strong message. I want to ask my hon. colleague what she thinks about this Conservative vision, in which not only do they go to the World Economic Forum to go after seniors, but they use their member from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan to try to cut dental benefits for children in need.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see that my interventions are now a little more polished. After three years I am getting the hang of it.
I want to talk about the benefits. I sincerely believe that my colleague must be very disappointed to have to vote on this bill. Based on what we have been told so far, the dental care is nothing like what was expected. I would tell my colleague that his party needs to keep working because they are not there yet.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
I must remind the hon. member, as I mentioned last week, that she cannot use documents that have the party logo on them in the House. Advertising is not allowed.
Resuming debate. The hon. member for Richmond Hill.
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2022-09-26 13:37 [p.7669]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
Today, as I rise to speak to Bill C-31, an act respecting cost of living relief measures related to dental care and rental housing, I feel proud. I am delighted. More important, as indicated in the name of the act itself, I feel relief, relief from the fact this legislation lays out the groundwork, complements programs and through its two main elements, serves to address some of the most prominent affordability concerns in Canada, more specifically in my riding of Richmond Hill.
It is a known fact that, following the COVID–19 pandemic and all the global and domestic challenges that have arisen since, Canadians have been deeply impacted by the rising cost of living. Addressing such large-scale issues cannot happen overnight, but rather through a multi-step, gradual process, which is exactly what is offered in Bill C-31.
Allow me to provide a brief overview of the bill by breaking it down into its two main components: dental care and housing. These are two domains that affect not only the financial, but also the physical well-being of each and every Canadian. Our government's focus on enhancing each of them is widely apparent through the bill.
To give a quick summary, Bill C-31 would make life more affordable for families across the country by providing dental care for Canadians in need with a family income of less than $90,000 annually, starting with children under 12 years old in 2022.
It would also provide immediate relief for individuals and families struggling with housing affordability through a one time $500 supplement to the Canada housing benefit.
Canadians are entitled to good oral health, regardless of their financial situation. It is estimated that about one-third of Canadians do not have any form of dental coverage and that one in five have avoided dental care because of its overwhelming cost. This is a dark reality for many low-income families. Canadians should not sacrifice their well-being and face long-term health issues because of their inability to afford seeing a dental professional. This is why we continue to work tirelessly across provinces and territories to ensure that accessible dental care is delivered to those who need it the most.
While our government continues to develop a durable and inclusive national dental care program, which will provide $650 a year to eligible parents for the next two years, it will also ensure timely dental appointments and checkups for children.
As a member of the health committee, I had the pleasure of hearing remarks from the president of the Canadian Dental Association, Dr. Lynn Tomkins, during my study on the topic of children's health. Dr. Tomkins testified that tooth decay remained one of the most common and preventable childhood chronic diseases in Canada.
Beyond the risk of pain and tooth loss, the effects of the absence of dental care for children can be devastating. Missing school, improper eating and lack of sleep are among the factors that arise from the lack of dental treatment for children. In the words of Dr. Tomkins, “nothing is more heart wrenching than having to treat a young child with severe dental decay.” The experience can cause lasting dental anxiety and fear.
This is why the Canadian Dental Association welcomed our government's once-in-a-generation federal investment in dental care.
The Canadian Dental Association expressed its appreciation of the phased approach being taken by government toward this issue. This gradual approach will allow time for consultation and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders on a long-term solution to improving access to dental services.
Bill C-31 also puts another key objective forward, which is ensuring every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home. We all know that the affordability crisis is top of mind for Canadians.
As such, during the summer, I had the opportunity to catch up with many community members and leaders through events such as our community council breakfast meeting where my constituents shared their concerns about their daily struggle to make ends meet.
For many renters, the high cost of living has resulted in an increasing challenge to find housing they can afford, which is why this legislation has arrived at the perfect time.
When passed, this will put hundreds of dollars back into the pockets of millions struggling with increased rent costs through a one-time $500-top-up to the Canada housing benefit. This top-up would be in addition to the Canada housing benefit, which already provides an average of $2,500 to thousands of working individuals and families from coast to coast to coast. I want to emphasize that this payment is part of a larger comprehensive plan to assist Canadian families nationwide.
Our housing strategies and programs have been successful in many ways. As a singular example, the launch of the affordable housing initiative back in 2016 aspired to create 4,000 units of housing. Instead, it has yielded 19,000. Following the legacy of this initiative, our plan will put Canada on the path to double housing construction over the next decade.
These are only two highlights of the consistent initiatives our government has taken to achieve affordable and sustainable housing for more Canadians. At this time, we are on the right track to accomplishing just that, through the passing of C-31.
Allow me to demonstrate just how important this legislation is to the people of my riding and, most important, to the key community leaders and service providers that strive to provide life-saving support for people experiencing homelessness year after year in Richmond Hill and across York Region.
Blue Door, as the largest emergency housing operator in York Region, strives to provide emergency housing support services to children, youth, men, women and families at risk of homelessness. Blue Door's housing emergency program has lifted over 500 individuals out of poverty by helping them navigate through COVID-19; provided over 19,000 nights of safety for homeless individuals; and served over 64,000 meals for the vulnerable population across York Region.
I continue to hear about the tremendously positive impact Blue Door makes in Richmond Hill through programs such as the mosaic interfaith out of the cold program.
Every year, from November to June, homeless adults and youth in Richmond Hill are provided with essential support at the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church, which is one of Blue Door's emergency housing sites.
Speaking of community leaders and heroes, the 360° Kids organization in Richmond Hill is yet another key community service provider, which provides kids in crisis with care. Day in, day out, Clovis Grant and his dedicated team at 360° Kids help youth make positive changes in their lives by overcoming barriers and moving from crisis to a place of safety and security.
I can confidently affirm that passing this important legislation will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of people, as the 360° Kids and Blue Door service users.
I urge members to support community leaders across all ridings like Michael Braithwaite, Clovis Grant and their dedicated teams from Richmond Hill, who provide housing services to our most vulnerable, by passing the legislation so we can provide a safety net for those who need it the most.
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, with regard to my colleague's comments on direct and positive impact, you mentioned, and I can question you on this, dental care programs—
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The member may want to use the word “he” instead of “you”.
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, dental care programs for low-income children exist in almost all provinces and territories, and almost 70% of Canadians have dental coverage. Therefore, I question your statements that conject against that. Further, I acknowledge my error.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2022-09-26 13:46 [p.7670]
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is not clear whether she is speaking directly to you or young sheep. It is fair, for the record, to have it clear she is speaking through the Chair to the member.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The member just corrected herself, so I will let the hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington finish her question.
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will finish by saying that the Prime Minister has announced more inflationary spending that does nothing to help seniors and families struggling to put gas in their tanks and food on their tables.
Could the hon. member comment on the fact-checking in his remarks today?
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2022-09-26 13:47 [p.7670]
Madam Speaker, I had the pleasure of working with my colleague at the health committee for a short period of time. During that time, we heard from a number of witnesses, who stated that Canada, for the funds it transfers to provinces, places second in OECD countries. However, for health care delivery, we are 27th. For funds being transferred from the federal government to the provinces, we rank number two; for delivery services, we rank number 27. There is a gap.
As we can see, it is also evident in the fact that on service delivery as it relates to oral health, especially for children under age 12, this gap remains. Our government, through this progressive program being introduced in this progressive bill, is trying to address that gap.
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
BQ (QC)
View Jean-Denis Garon Profile
2022-09-26 13:48 [p.7670]
Madam Speaker, to begin, I would like to acknowledge the presence of the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, who reminds us that bullying has no place in politics.
With respect to Bill C-31, I would like to know whether my colleague from Richmond Hill is comfortable with the fact that the poorest parents are the ones who will suffer the most from this bill. In order to receive the increased Canada child benefit, they will have to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency's administrative hassle, not once but twice: first to qualify, and then to provide justification after the the fact.
I would like to know whether my colleague is comfortable with these regressive conditions in Bill C-31.
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2022-09-26 13:49 [p.7670]
Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that I also have the pleasure of working with the member at the health committee.
As we said, this is progressive legislation and we look forward to it going to committee and studying it, ensuring that all the areas are addressed.
As it relates to the provinces, the provinces are doing their job of providing service delivery, especially in health care, to a lot of their constituents. It is great to see that Quebec is leading that. This is why we need to ensure that we take our time, work with all the provinces and ensure there are no unintended consequences. The details of how people qualify, how the money gets transferred and all of those things are yet to be determined. However, there was a need to ensure that we addressed the shortfall for children 12 and under, and we are taking concrete action on that today.
I hope my colleague and his party support the bill.
View Lisa Marie Barron Profile
NDP (BC)
View Lisa Marie Barron Profile
2022-09-26 13:50 [p.7671]
Madam Speaker, I want to quote Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, who said, “Moving forward on rental and dental relief is essential and will help to ease the affordability crisis being faced by families today. The rising cost of housing and out-of-pocket dental care has put many families under water.”
Although the Liberals voted against the NDP's 2021 motion to give Canadians access to dental care, I am happy they have finally agreed to follow suit.
Does the member agree that this much-overdue dental care is necessary for all Canadians and would benefit us all?
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2022-09-26 13:51 [p.7671]
Madam Speaker, naturally we do. That is why we have introduced the bill and have taken leadership on ensuring that the areas where gaps exist in our health care delivery are addressed.
View Taylor Bachrach Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today in this House and speak to Bill C-31, a piece of legislation that comes at a very critical time for a lot of Canadians. Many of my colleagues here in this place speak with people in our home communities and across our ridings about the challenges they face. When I speak to folks these days, so many of them tell me about the rising cost of living and the challenge it is placing on their family budgets.
Many of these people talk to me about it and express how it feels that this is happening to them, and they have very little agency. They did not cause the war in Ukraine. They did not break the international supply chains. They did not force huge corporations to act in a time of crisis to jack up their profits on the backs of ordinary Canadians. People are working hard and are falling further behind.
This crisis of inflation affects everybody, but it affects some more than others. It especially affects those on fixed and low incomes. Some folks have the ability to shift their spending, but when they are living on a limited income and when their paycheque is a fixed amount and the cost of everything is going up, they have very few options. Everyone in this place would agree that it is there that we should focus our policy attention as legislators. Those are the folks who need help the most right now.
Part of this bill is a very simple component. The top-up of the Canada housing benefit would get a one-time $500 payment to Canadians who qualify for that benefit. Specifically, they are families who earn a net income of less than $35,000 a year. That would help 1.8 million Canadians with the cost of living, and it would make a real difference. It is something that the government should have brought in months and months ago, but the time to act is now. We need to ensure that this legislation gets through so that people can benefit from this payment.
The second part of this legislation is also related to the cost of living. It would help Canadians with their costs, but it is different. The other part of this legislation, the Canada dental benefit, is a down payment on something that is going to have a profound and long-lasting benefit for millions of Canadians. It is going to be transformational and to make a difference for generations to come.
Many would agree that universal health care is our country's crowning achievement. This is possibly our greatest policy achievement. It is something that is based on a simple but profound premise, which is that in a world in which so many of the aspects of quality of life correlate with one's financial status, health should be different. Everyone, no matter their income, should have access and the dignity of access to basic health care, yet, ever since the Canada Health Act was first passed into law in the 1960s, it has been a project incomplete. It has been a vision unfulfilled, because we all know that there are aspects of our health that were not included in the legislation that created universal health care. As New Democrats we have always held as part of the vision, right back to the days of Tommy Douglas, that things like our eyes, mental health and dental care are integral to our concept of health and to our health outcomes, and that they must be included in our vision of universal health care for all.
Nobody here in this place can argue that dental care is not a part of health care. We all know people who suffer from extreme health issues as a result of dental pain and dental issues that go untreated. Dental care is expensive; everyone knows this as well. Thirty-five per cent of Canadians lack proper dental insurance, and that number jumps to 50% when we are talking about low-income Canadians. Seven million Canadians avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. It is shameful. It is something that has to change, and the bill in front of us is the first step in heading down that road. Canada's most vulnerable face the highest rates of dental decay and disease and the worst access to dental care. This is something we have to change. We are going to change that. This bill is the start.
The legislation in front of us begins with the children of low- and modest-income families, and that is no mistake. We all know that if we can catch these dental care issues at a young age, we can prevent much more serious issues down the road. This is about prevention, and it is about helping young children address serious health issues before they become even more serious.
In 1964, the Royal Commission on Health Services recommended precisely this. It stated that the government should, as quickly as possible, implement a dental program for children, yet here we are over half a century later, finally tackling this critical aspect of health care.
Shamefully, tooth decay remains the most common, yet preventable, chronic childhood illness in Canada. The most common reason for kids undergoing day surgery and missing school is dental decay. The most common surgery performed at most pediatric hospitals across Canada is related to dental issues. Left unchecked, these issues affect people's health in profound ways, as I mentioned, but they are preventable and we are finally on the path to making things better.
We are not going to stop at dental care for kids. I sent a mail-out to my constituents asking for their feedback on this proposed dental care program. The vast majority of the responses I received were from seniors. It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear some of the messages they sent me.
One woman wrote in and said, “My husband is working at 67 years old to keep his coverage going. It would be great to have support so he could retire.” Someone else said, “We skip dental care because we can't afford it, and dread the day we might need serious attention.” Another senior wrote me and said, “Last year, one tooth cost me $5,000. That is 10 months of my CPP.”
This is something we can address. What we have in front of us with the Canada dental benefit is indeed a down payment on a permanent national dental care plan. It is not only going to help kids under 12. It is going to help seniors. It is going to help youth under 18. It is going to help people with disabilities. It is going to help millions of Canadians who are struggling with dental health issues.
New Democrats have pushed hard for dental care for a long time. Of course, it was always a part of our vision for universal health care. Just a year ago, our brilliant colleague, Jack Harris, stood in this House and put forward a motion urging the government to implement a national dental care plan. It was a sad thing that both Conservatives and Liberals voted down that motion, yet here we are a year later, taking the first steps toward a national dental care plan that is going to help millions of people. We got there for one reason: We did not give up, because we hold on to that vision of universal health care.
It is no coincidence that the last time we achieved a transformational public health policy for Canadians with the Canada Health Act, it was New Democrats coming off the experience in Saskatchewan with universal health care under the leadership of Tommy Douglas, who pushed a Liberal government in a minority Parliament to do the right thing and create a change that has benefited so many people over the years. Here we find ourselves again in a position where this idea of making lives better for people by providing this care that so many people need is at a point at which we can finally move forward, and we are not going to stop until it becomes a reality. Creating a national dental care plan is about dignity, it is about health care and it is about bloody time.
View Carol Hughes Profile
NDP (ON)
The hon. member will have five minutes for questions and comments the next time this matter is before the House.
View Alain Rayes Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2022-09-26 14:00 [p.7672]
Madam Speaker, I want to take a moment to thank the thousands of people in the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska, those across Quebec and Canada, as well as my colleagues from all parties, who have supported me over the past two weeks following my decision to act in line with my values and convictions and, accordingly, to sit as an independent member of Parliament from now on.
We are fortunate to live in Canada, in a democracy that is the envy of the world. I call on the leaders of the various political parties to show respect, to set an example for their members, supporters and staff, and to denounce bullying in all its forms.
A bullying campaign like the one I was subjected to 10 days ago by my former political party is unacceptable. Canadians do not want to see that kind of behaviour, and every member in the House has a duty to debate passionately but respectfully and to condemn aggressive, hateful or threatening speech. Our constituents expect nothing less from us.
For the sake of our democracy, and to combat the current cynicism, let us all raise the level of debate.
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Salma Zahid Profile
2022-09-26 14:02 [p.7672]
Madam Speaker, I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iran’s odious morality police and was allegedly arrested for refusing to wear a hijab.
No government should have any say in what a woman chooses to wear or chooses not to wear. I strongly condemn the actions of the Iranian regime. Canada must demand justice, and this morality police must be disbanded.
As members can see, I wear a hijab. This is my choice and mine alone. I will always stand for choice. No one should pressure a woman, whatever her choices.
Wherever we call home, women are entitled to their autonomy. Governments should stop trying to police what we wear and do not wear. I stand in solidarity with those who protest and fight for these rights in Iran and around the world.
View Brad Redekopp Profile
CPC (SK)
View Brad Redekopp Profile
2022-09-26 14:03 [p.7673]
Madam Speaker, our new Conservative leader will put people first: their retirement, their paycheques, their homes and their country. That is why, this past June, I introduced my first private member's bill, Bill C-286, the recognition of foreign credentials act. This legislation will streamline the process of connecting skilled immigrants with jobs that our economy desperately needs. This is a vital step in making life more affordable for Canadians.
I spent the summer consulting with stakeholders and constituents to discuss this legislation. The feedback is overwhelming. Canada's foreign credentials system is broken. It is a 19th-century system governing a 21st-century labour market.
Having doctors drive taxis is unacceptable. The NDP-Liberal coalition is too busy fuelling the inflation fire and has not done anything to help newcomers work in their fields. Conservatives, under our new leader, are committed to helping newcomers get the jobs they were trained for.
I urge every single MP to lay down their instruments, get to work and pass this important legislation for our country.
View Majid Jowhari Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Majid Jowhari Profile
2022-09-26 14:04 [p.7673]
Madam Speaker, watching the growing protests in my home country in demand of justice for 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, I ask myself how I would have coped if this tragedy and murder had occurred to my own daughter.
The heart-wrenching murder of this young woman at the hands of Iran’s morality police is yet another demonstration of the unconscionable atrocities and continued violence inflicted by Iran's oppressive regime. The demands of the Iranian people and those of us living in the diaspora are simple. We demand justice, accountability and an end to the cruelty of the Iranian regime.
In bold acts of defiance and at the risk of losing their lives, the brave people of Iran, led by women at the forefront, are rushing to the streets in protest, but their voices are silenced through Internet shutdowns and the killing of protesters.
When you see the news, ask yourself: What would you do if it were your mother, sister, wife or daughter in the headlines?
In solidarity with the women and people of Iran, join me in the chant that has swept the nation: “Woman, life, freedom.”
Zan, Zendegi, Azadi.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Gaspé Peninsula, the Magdalen Islands, the Lower North Shore and the Maritimes are assessing the damage. Hurricane Fiona left devastation in its wake.
On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to offer my condolences to the loved ones of the two victims and express my support for all the people who suffered losses. I also want to thank all the people who are working to clean up the damage, restore power and help the victims. I want to acknowledge my stepfather, Mario, and all the Hydro-Québec teams that have been deployed to Nova Scotia.
I want to acknowledge that the federal government was active and collaborative this weekend. I appreciate that. However, the government also needs to realize that it is not normal to have a tropical storm here. Our regions are already experiencing the effects of climate change.
Ottawa should go and ask the people whose homes were swallowed up by the sea whether it is a good idea to keep approving oil and gas projects. It should explain to the people who lost their car, boat or practically all their belongings why it is taking their taxes and using them to subsidize the oil companies.
A tropical storm in eastern Quebec is not a normal occurrence, and it is up to the government to ensure that it stays that way.
View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2022-09-26 14:07 [p.7673]
Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 24th time Rigaud celebrates the beauty of fall. For the seventh time in the House, I would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone in Vaudreuil—Soulanges to take part in the Rigaud festival of colours, which this year will be held from October 8 to 10.
Thanks once again to the great job done by Christiane Lévesque and her team of dedicated volunteers, with the generous support of Canadian Heritage, Mayor Marie-Claude Frigault and the mayor's City of Rigaud team, everyone, young and old, can participate in the many activities and take the time to admire the magic of the fall colours on display.
The natural beauty of our region and the richness of its artisans will be showcased together this year at Mount Rigaud, and I invite all the members of our Vaudreuil—Soulanges community to come discover them at the 24th festival of colours in Rigaud.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, equipping each RCMP vehicle a decade ago with an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, would have cost under $10 million and would have saved roughly 3,000 lives over the 10-year life of the AED units, at a cost of $3,000 per life saved. However, this Liberal government has done nothing and those lives are gone forever.
I first raised this issue in the House in 2015 and again in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. Just before the pandemic, I met with the previous minister, and he agreed with me that AEDs should be a priority. In June of this year, I questioned the current minister, and he boasted to the House that he was spending hundreds of millions of dollars on what he called life-saving equipment for the RCMP, but in both cases there was no action.
Records confirm that the last time a minister even requested information from the RCMP or the department regarding AEDs for RCMP cruisers was in November 2014. Surely the time has come for less wheel spinning and more action.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, great communities do not just happen. They are built on the values of partnership, teamwork and community spirit. Yesterday, all of these values were on display as hundreds of residents from the city of Vaughan came together for the annual Run for Vaughan.
Organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, and now in its 19th year, the Run for Vaughan supports excellence in health care in our city. Since 2003, the annual event has raised over $1.2 million, with this weekend’s event adding an additional $275,000 in support of the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital. Impressively, this is a youth-led initiative by my dear friend Zohaib Malhi, with the run expanding this year to over 15 cities across Canada.
The community spirit and generosity of the Ahmadiyya community is something that makes the city of Vaughan a more inclusive community and underpins the phrase that diversity is truly Canada’s strength.
As chair of the Ahmadiyya parliamentary association, I wish to thank the entire community.
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2022-09-26 14:10 [p.7674]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour Savanna Pikuyak, a young Inuk woman who was murdered just weeks after arriving in Ottawa to study nursing at Algonquin College in my riding.
Before coming to Ottawa, Savanna studied pre-health at Nunavut Arctic College and worked at the health centre in her home community in Nunavut. All she wanted was to help people, but on September 11, at 22 years old, Savanna was senselessly murdered in the apartment she was renting.
Too often, young indigenous women come to our city and do not have access to safe housing. Violence against indigenous women is very real and very devastating. Because there was no safe place for Savanna to live, her family and her community are grieving.
I want to express my deepest condolences to Savanna Pikuyak's family and community. We will not forget her.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons has resumed parliamentary business, and the Conservatives are back with a new leader.
In the coming months, this leader will put people, their pensions, their paycheques, their homes and their country first. For this reason, he has entrusted me with the role of political lieutenant for Quebec to ensure that our vision for Canada includes the priorities of Quebec society.
I accept this role with humility, but also with the certainty that we will rally Conservatives across Quebec and offer political orphans a new vision of a government that is proactive, unlike the one that has governed us so poorly over the past seven years.
Over the next few months and starting this week, I will be meeting with the business community, ethnic communities and various stakeholders to learn more about their vision, their challenges and especially the solutions they are proposing to improve government services. Many issues need to be addressed and that is what I will be doing in collaboration with my colleagues.
Considering the ups and downs we have been experiencing as of late, changes need to be made. If anyone can bring hope to all Canadians and rally a majority of Quebeckers, it is the new Conservative leader.
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam van Koeverden Profile
2022-09-26 14:12 [p.7674]
Mr. Speaker, on September 12, a tragic and terrifying series of gun attacks left our community shocked, scared and in mourning. A Toronto police officer, Constable Andrew Hong, and Shakeel Ashraf, a small business owner from our community in Milton, as well as his colleague, Satwinder Singh, an exchange student, were brutally murdered when a gunman terrorized our communities and the residents of Mississauga and Milton.
My sincere condolences go to the families and the loved ones of the deceased.
I would like to extend gratitude to all of the first responders and police services of Halton, Hamilton and Peel, as well as the OPP, who worked together to bring an end to the attacks. I offer my thanks for their brave and dedicated service.
Canadians deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their communities, and nobody should live in fear of gun violence. This government has done more than any in a generation to keep Canadians safe from guns and crime, but there is much more work to be done.
Milton is a strong, compassionate and resilient community. We will continue to support each other as we grieve and work through this tragedy. We will remember Andrew, Shakeel and Satwinder as community leaders, friends and neighbours. My thoughts remain with their families, their friends and their colleagues. May they rest in peace.
View Stephen Ellis Profile
CPC (NS)
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2022-09-26 14:13 [p.7675]
Mr. Speaker, hurricane Fiona has been devastating. First and foremost, I must send condolences on behalf of this House to the family of the 73-year-old lady who died in Port aux Basques.
Further, I want to praise the resilience and comradery of the residents of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland. To see neighbour helping neighbour without pretense or expectation warms my heart as a Canadian.
Some have lost their homes and their businesses. Power remains yet to be restored to almost 40% of Nova Scotia Power's customers. This morning I left my family at home without electricity. On a positive note, it is important to remember the Jacob Currys of the world who are fearless, giving of themselves and a whiz with a chainsaw. How does one get a 60-foot tree off a car without causing further damage? It is done with a three and a half tonne jack, a six-by-six, a couple of two-by-sixes and great help, of course.
We must remember that coming together in times of great need is what helped build this nation. When given a chance and hope, Canadians will rise to a challenge and give their absolute best. Let us continue to keep Atlantic Canada in our thoughts and in our prayers in this most difficult time.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
CPC (NS)
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2022-09-26 14:15 [p.7675]
Mr. Speaker, this week has been quite an ordeal for Atlantic Canadians. Hurricane Fiona left desperation and destruction in her path throughout Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, Îles de la Madeleine, and Newfoundland and Labrador. I stand with this House in mourning the loss of life, as all Canadians do.
It will take days, if not weeks, to restore many communities' power. It will take months, if not years, to pick up the pieces of our communities. It is at these times that we are proud to be Canadians. We know that through despair and destruction we will find hope and love, helping one another to rebuild and to take care of one another. In the depths of the darkness of the wind and rain, there were many points of light trying to ensure the safety of our loved ones.
I want to thank emergency measures organizations, first responders, police, fire and paramedics who were there through the hurricane to save lives and help others.
I want to thank power crews and the public works department for starting the daunting task of cleaning up.
Fiona may have knocked us down, but we are Atlantic Canadians. We are already back up.
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
2022-09-26 14:16 [p.7675]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to sound the alarm on the critical situation of the Uighurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang, China.
Today, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Uighur community have organized a Uighur advocacy day on the Hill.
In February 2021, this House recognized the Uighur genocide. Currently, over one million are living this nightmare. Recently, in August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a groundbreaking report contributing to the mounting evidence of serious and systemic rights abuses against the Uighur people. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights further said that these may rise to crimes against humanity.
Following the UN report, our foreign affairs minister said two things: that Canada will work with the international community to hold China to account; and that forced labour in supply chains will be addressed.
View Matthew Green Profile
NDP (ON)
View Matthew Green Profile
2022-09-26 14:17 [p.7675]
Mr. Speaker, with the economy on the brink of a recession and the Bank of Canada calling for the suppression of workers' wages, we already know who is paying the true cost of inflation. Central bankers and economists have always known that higher interest rates will directly result in higher unemployment and cause deeper economic suffering and further exploitation of the working class.
Just last week, the Liberal government callously allowed the extended EI supports to expire, further punishing workers by making it harder for them to access the benefits they paid into, and the leader of the official opposition has shown Canadians his real priorities, attacking the pensions of vulnerable seniors who need it most and calling for a freeze on employment insurance contributions.
In the face of even tougher economic times ahead, only New Democrats are fighting for stronger social safety nets and a co-operative economy that places everyday Canadians, and not corporate profits, at the heart of economic decision-making.
View René Villemure Profile
BQ (QC)
View René Villemure Profile
2022-09-26 14:18 [p.7676]
Mr. Speaker, the Hippodrome Trois-Rivières has been holding horse races since 1830, which makes it the oldest racetrack in Quebec. After the racetrack owner went bankrupt, the track was purchased in 2012 by the Quebec Jockey Club, which got to work revitalizing horse racing and making this track the only active professional racetrack in Quebec.
Twice a week from May to November, the races are brilliantly called in French by Guy Lafontaine and presented by satellite across North America. More than 100,000 people go to Trois‑Rivières every year to watch the races and admire these magnificent animals at work. I hope to be able to admire the unforgettable Kingston Panic, Apocalypse Alpha, Miss Peggy Sue and Poisson d'avril for a long time.
I congratulate the president of the Quebec Jockey Club, Claude Lévesque, for his excellent work, and I invite all horse race lovers to spend a day at the Trois-Rivières racetrack.
View Rick Perkins Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, hurricane Fiona was not our first hurricane in Atlantic Canada. Since 1951 we have been hit by 37 hurricanes, 79 tropical storms and 140 extra-tropical storms. We know how to prepare for these. Fiona was different. It was huge, recording some of the strongest winds ever. Many in Nova Scotia are still without power. Northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton were hit hard, so too P.E.I. and Newfoundland. Homes and businesses have been lost, critical coastal infrastructure destroyed and farms devastated. Fishing communities have lost their boats, gear and wharves.
Nova Scotians are tough, and we will come together to support each other. I would like to thank the power workers putting in long days to restore power and those who are supporting their fellow community members at emergency shelters and warming centres.
The character of our communities is most present at times of tragedy. As we start to rebuild, Atlantic Canadians know that the strongest storms bring out the best of us.
View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, people across Atlantic Canada and into eastern Quebec have just experienced what is likely the worst system to have ever hit our shores. The images are burned into our memories forever: homes and loved ones swept into the sea; communities physically torn apart. Lives have been lost, but through this darkness stories continue to emerge of neighbours helping neighbours and incredible acts of kindness showcasing our region's resilient spirit.
Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in Nova Scotia, in Newfoundland and Labrador and in P.E.I., helping where they are needed the most. The government remains in constant communication with all affected provinces so that we can provide support as needed.
We are looking at a very long road to recovery ahead of us. My message to everyone affected by this is that they are not alone. The government will be there as a strong federal partner every step of the way.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-09-26 14:22 [p.7676]
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to express the official opposition's total solidarity with all the families in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec whose lives have been disrupted by hurricane Fiona.
We offer our condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one and our support to anyone who has lost a home or a business. Would the government please tell us its action plan to help, and how members of this side of the House could join in solidarity with the government to make that help a success for our fellow Canadians in the east?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2022-09-26 14:23 [p.7676]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the leader of the official opposition for his words, as well as all members who have expressed their solidarity with our friends in Atlantic Canada. Our thoughts are with everyone who is hurting as a result of this storm. Our thoughts are especially with the families who have lost loved ones.
The Canadian Armed Forces have been deployed to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The government has also set up a matching fund to double donations to the Red Cross over the next 30 days. I encourage all Canadians to be generous.
Canadians are there for each other, and this time is no different.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-09-26 14:23 [p.7677]
Mr. Speaker, P.E.I. potato farmers were already suffering because of the self-imposed export ban. Now they may have lost another year's crop. Dairy farmers out east are without electricity, meaning they might lose livestock. Fishers are losing boats, wharves and other critical infrastructure.
Traditional bureaucratic government programs are very slow to respond. What will the government do to speed up a response to help those who feed all of us get back on their feet?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2022-09-26 14:24 [p.7677]
Mr. Speaker, as early as last Tuesday, we started working with local communities on the ground and provincial leadership to prepare for what we knew would be a big storm coming. Indeed, when the storm hit, we were connecting immediately with premiers, municipalities and indigenous leaders to make sure they were getting all the support they have and need.
We will continue to be there as a federal government with immediate supports, with the military where it is needed, with investments in the short term, but we will also be there over the medium and indeed long term as people rebuild, and as we support the people who work so hard to keep us fed and supported.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-09-26 14:25 [p.7677]
Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia Power reported that the ArriveCAN app blocked American crews that were trying to rush into the province to help with the recovery response and wasted valuable time. Originally, the public safety minister denied that had happened, only to be contradicted by the emergency preparedness minister who said that, in fact, there had been an issue at the border.
Will the Prime Minister suspend the ArriveCAN app today, not Saturday, so no more holdups happen at the border for those who are trying to help those in desperate need?
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