Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about the Liberals, who are proposing a hefty 850-page bill. It is an omnibus bill. It is the largest bill ever introduced in the House of Commons. The omnibus bills that the Conservatives used to introduce were 75 pages long. Today we are seeing an 800% or even 900% increase with this 851-page bill. The Liberals were elected on a promise to be more transparent and more accountable.
Furthermore, we are debating this unusually large bill under a gag order. This morning, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour was boasting about how she has already given opposition members 15 hours of debate.
According to my calculations, 15 hours of debate divided by 851 pages equals one minute and five seconds per page. Is it responsible to allocate so little time to debate a bill? I use the phrase “debate a bill” loosely, because only eight NDP MPs and five Conservative MPs spoke to this bill before today, if memory serves.
The Liberals say that they are more democratic, more transparent and more accountable, but I have my doubts. I think that everyone has reason to doubt the goodwill and good faith of the Liberals.
As my colleague from Jonquière said, this bill amends seven acts. The Liberals have never been able to tell us how many clauses and subclauses are in this mammoth bill. They themselves do not even know. They do not even know all the things they put in this bill. It is ridiculous to have to debate it under time allocation.
I will focus on just a few points in my speech because, unfortunately, nobody in the House can cover all the measures introduced in the nearly 900-page bill in just 10 minutes.
Women have been waiting 42 years for the Liberals to keep their promises on pay equity. Unions have been fighting Canada Post in court over that for 30 years. The government is yet again telling women they will have to wait. Pay equity legislation will come into force not in a matter of weeks or months, but in four years.
Our party has been a tireless advocate for this important issue. We have even proposed changes in the past. As we heard from my colleague from Jonquière, the NDP proposed 36 amendments. The Conservatives proposed amendments. The other parties proposed amendments. How many amendments did the Liberals accept? Not one single amendment was accepted, despite the fact that they reflected the demands of unions and the demands of various women's groups. Not one amendment was accepted to improve the bill, to give women a stronger voice. The Liberals did not agree to any of our suggestions.
Canada is facing some major challenges that require a bolder approach than the one the Liberals are using. The first initiatives requiring employers to determine how many people must receive more pay are a step in the right direction. However, what could possibly justify how long it will take to implement this? Is it acceptable that women continue to be underpaid for another four years under this government?
In 2018, women earn on average $12,700 less than men. If we multiply that by four, that means nearly $51,000 less for women. The government says it is proud to have introduced pay equity legislation. However, women will still have $51,000 less in their pockets, which is a lot.
If I had to summarize the government's action, I would have to say that it is nothing but half measures. The time it will take to implement pay equity is the biggest problem lurking behind the government's facade of good intentions, but it is not the only one. There is also the fact that budget implementation act, 2018, No. 2 does not require employers to apply pay equity to workers who were already under contract if changes are subsequently made to the contract following a call for tenders. Why? We do not know.
The bill also does not include any of the pay transparency measures that advocates have called for. Salaries cannot be compared when pay equity issues are being addressed. What is wrong with that picture? Will the pay equity commissioner have the resources needed to do his or her work properly? We do not know that either.
Speaking of half measures, why did the government not adopt the recommendations set out in the Bilson report, including the creation of a pay equity hearings tribunal? Lastly, the Liberals are once again professing to support equality while telling a segment of the population that is being treated unfairly to grin and bear it. I would like to remind the government that women represent 51% of the population.
The government made its choice. It chose not to make the investments needed to ensure that women receive equal pay, and chose instead to give big business, the richest people in the world, $14 billion in tax cuts. This measure was introduced last week in the Minister of Finance's fall economic statement. Did the rich and these big corporations really need that $14 billion this fall? I do not think so. They are getting help, yet many of them evade taxes or openly use tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
The same is true for web giants like Netflix, Apple and Facebook, which pay virtually nothing in taxes and then get tax breaks. However, they use our services and are quite happy to hire highly skilled workers from Quebec and Canada. The Liberals claim that our SMEs are important and that they want to support buying local, but they support the web giants that do not need to worry about all of the taxes imposed on our SMEs under Canadian law.
How much of this money will go to rural areas? We have no idea. The government is allocating billions of dollars for businesses to buy new equipment and innovate, but how can we innovate when our rural areas do not even have access to high-speed Internet or a 3G or LTE cellular network?
The Auditor General criticized the government for its lack of judgment in managing public money allocated to the connect to innovate program. Some municipalities in my riding are turned down for this program or CRTC funds for ridiculous reasons, such as the fact that there is already a home with high-speed Internet within a 25-kilometre radius. This is happening in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, and all the areas served by Coop CSUR in the Soulanges area are under the same restriction. Do we really want a double standard for our rural and urban areas?
On another subject, how will the poverty reduction strategy be funded? Apparently, it will be made up of existing programs without any additional money. I think the Liberals are just thumbing their noses at us. They have targets, but no plan. That seems to be a theme with this government, because it does not have a plan for the environment either. The Liberals got themselves elected in 2015 by saying, “We have a plan, we have a plan, we have a plan”. Today, there is no plan, there is no plan, there is no plan. I think I will use that in an ad.
Are they going to help the most vulnerable citizens access health care services more easily? No. There is no plan for pharmacare either, even though we know that we could save $3 billion a year according to conservative estimates. We could make a lot of investments in health care with that money.
What other measures does the bill include to drastically reduce our CO2 and methane emissions starting this year? None. Is the government planning to help rural areas go green, develop public transit, make their homes more energy efficient, or use solar and wind power? No.
Is the government going to implement restrictions to help big corporations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? No, of course there is no plan to do that. Will the federal government finally have a costed plan for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions? No, it has no plan for that either.
It has been pointed out that many citizen movements have been launched. In Quebec, artists, scientists, economists and citizens have signed A Pact for the Transition. Millennials have been criticized for not being more involved in all kinds of things, but yesterday, young people who realized that the government is not doing anything for the environment took action, and a youth environmental group called ENvironnement JEUnesse brought suit against the federal government for failing to take action on the environment.
I have to stop now because I am out of time, but that shows just how important the environment is to people 35 and under and how absurd it was for the government to spend $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on a pipeline.
That move was not a plan or investment for keeping our planet healthy for current and future generations. It is shameful.