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Results: 1 - 15 of 920
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 3:33 [p.2070]
Mr. Morneau, as you know, we are experiencing a pandemic of unprecedented proportions that is putting the economy on hold. Nearly one million people have submitted employment insurance claims. People are worried because they cannot get in touch with anyone at EI. They want to know when they will be getting their cheques.
Mr. Morneau, what will your government do to speed up the process and make sure people get an answer?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 3:34 [p.2070]
Madam Chair, in committee of the whole, I believe we are allowed to use people's names.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 3:35 [p.2070]
Madam Chair, it is my understanding that, in committee of the whole, we are allowed to name individuals.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 3:36 [p.2070]
Madam Chair, I want to thank the Minister of Finance for reassuring the public in that regard.
It is important to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. We need to think about the unemployed, about the workers who have not accumulated sufficient hours to qualify for EI, and about self-employed workers. A program will be created for those individuals.
However, I am thinking of small business owners, who often do not even have any employees. In the technical briefings we have had so far, we have been told that when it comes to registered small businesses, people will not be eligible for the income support measure. Restaurant owners are often forced to shut down and will no longer have any income.
Aside from possibly deferring tax payments and granting access to loans, will there be anything else for these individuals, like the income support measure?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 3:38 [p.2071]
Madam Chair, I want to thank the Minister of Finance for that clarification. This will ease a serious concern felt by many people in our communities.
With regard to the income support measure and payments, we are still waiting for the calculation grid. In the technical briefings, we have not yet been told what the calculation grid might look like or when we will have access to that.
Can the Minister of Finance indicate, first of all, what the calculation grid might look like, and second, when we might have access to that grid to assess the sums that might be available?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 4:21 [p.2078]
Madam Chair, Quebeckers are proud of our aerospace industry. The nearly total shutdown of the aviation industry, which is also struggling, will hit Quebec and Canadian companies and their tens of thousands of employees really hard.
Earlier today, Bombardier announced that it is suspending operations at its facilities for at least a month. The industry is struggling with health issues linked to COVID-19, supply chain issues related to delays and restrictions, contract issues because of the slowdown and delivery problems due to travel restrictions.
In Europe and the United States, the aerospace industry enjoys special status. Does this government recognize that the aerospace industry is a strategic industry and that it could therefore deploy the measures needed to support it?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 4:23 [p.2078]
Madam Chair, I want to thank the Minister of Finance for his response.
My next question relates to agriculture. Some measures have been implemented, but farmers want the agri-invest program to be enhanced by 5%, with no matching funds from businesses. That would help them with cash flow without making them go into debt. Will the government commit to that?
I am thinking of the announcement made by Farm Credit Canada on Monday. Only 30% of Quebec farms are registered with Farm Credit Canada. In addition, that agency does not have enough staff to respond to everyone on the ground.
What does the government plan to do in that regard?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 4:24 [p.2078]
Madam Chair, I would first like to know how much time I have left.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 4:24 [p.2078]
Thank you, Madam Chair. That is generous. I will speak very slowly. I had planned on sharing my time, but in the end I will be using it all.
I would like some clarification on the benefits for self-employed workers. If a worker does not have any income, he or she is entitled to the special benefits, but what if his or her income drops by, say, 80%? Would this self-employed worker be entitled to the tax benefits?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 5:00 [p.2084]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the leader of the Conservative Party for his speech. I would nevertheless remind him that raising doubts as to the independence of the Bank of Canada twice in a matter of minutes is not the right message to send to the markets.
As far as his intervention on Roxham Road is concerned, I would remind him that the Conservative Party is not the only one to have spoken up about this. The Bloc has been on this from the start.
The same goes for the negotiations that led to this bill. When I compare this morning's version of the bill to the one we had 12 hours later, I see that some changes were made, but they are minor. For example, when the leader of the Conservative Party talks about changing the date from December 31, 2021 to September 30, 2020, the end of this summer, that change was already included in this morning's version of the bill.
Was this a case of much ado about nothing, or were we dealing with a paper tiger all along?
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 5:03 [p.2084]
Mr. Speaker, despite the hour, this is a very important time in the House. We are facing an unprecedented health crisis, one I never would have imagined in my lifetime. It is a global pandemic. An extreme situation such as this demands extreme measures and that is what we are talking about today.
Above all, I am pleased that the approach being taken to deal with this global crisis puts health above the economy. The economy is extremely important, but this new virus will have a devastating impact on public health and result in countless deaths if nothing is done about it. I commend the fact that we have decided to join in solidarity to get through this crisis and minimize the number of deaths by putting health ahead of the economy. The Bloc and I commend that.
Obviously it takes courage to make this decision because the consequences to the economy are severe. We can do all the analyses once this is over. Let us hope that this ends as quickly as possible. I am confident that once COVID-19 is contained and dealt with the economy will bounce back quickly. I am sure of it. Until then, let us bring in support measures, extreme measures. No one should be left behind. No one should be abandoned. No one should be forgotten.
In that regard, I applaud a number of the measures set out in this bill. We were worried about workers who did not accumulate enough hours to have access to employment insurance, but there is something for those people. Obviously, there are measures for everyone with health problems or those who have come into contact with someone who may have contracted COVID-19 or is in quarantine. These are important measures. The same is true for self-employed workers who did not register for employment insurance and who therefore do not have access to it. These people will be covered. Many such measures are being put in place.
People's biggest concerns, what we are hearing about in the media and through the calls we are getting at our offices, have to do with efficiency and timelines. People are really worried. They heard about the measures that have been announced on the news, but they were not told when or how those measures will be implemented. It is more complicated. Obviously, if a million people file a claim for employment insurance, Service Canada offices are going to be extremely busy and the phone lines will certainly be jammed. However, I think that we really have the duty to rise above partisanship and find ways of improving the process to provide more information, shorten wait times, reassure people and ensure that they get their first cheque as quickly as possible.
There are also measures for businesses. I am thinking of the lines of credit that the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada can provide. That is important. I am also thinking of the banking systems agreement. I hope that Mouvement Desjardins, Quebec's largest mortgage lender, will be included in the agreements. That is extremely important for Quebec's economy. All of these things will enable financial institutions to ensure cash flow, to make agreements with businesses and individuals who are finding it difficult to make payments in the short term. Let us hope that the six-month deferral period will be enough. If not, we can revisit that issue during the second phase of our plan.
Obviously, I am concerned about entire sectors of our economy. In the agricultural industry, our farmers are very worried. One measure was announced on Monday, but for now it does not seem to be enough to reassure the agricultural community. Everyone is anxious right now, and feeding the population is fundamental. That obviously goes hand-in-hand with health. We therefore need to ensure that our farms get through this crisis without any problems.
In that regard, it was suggested that the government enhance the agri-invest program by 5% without requiring businesses to match those funds. That would give businesses liquidity without making them go into debt. Earlier, in committee of the whole, I got the impression that the government is not going to move forward with that measure for now. I am asking the government to reconsider.
We need to think about the major sectors of the economy. I am particularly interested in Quebec's major industries. We cannot underestimate the importance of the aerospace industry. I was pleased to hear the finance minister recognize it as a strategic industry. This means that, if ever that industry is in trouble, assistance plans will be put in place, as they are for all strategic industries.
It is really important to make sure no one is left behind and to reassure the public.
We are facing an extreme crisis that is creating an extreme economic crisis. We all hope we can get through this as quickly as possible. We will have to create an array of new tools to help us with that.
We know that income support is important during an economic crisis. Businesses need support. They are having a lot of problems. We must therefore continue to innovate in order to get through this crisis as quickly as possible.
As a general rule, economists will say that every crisis is an opportunity to shape the economy of tomorrow. I hope that we will take this opportunity to transition toward a greener economy more quickly.
Our thoughts are with everyone directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic.
I hope that we in the House can set partisanship aside and work together even better than we usually do.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 5:12 [p.2085]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. He represents the riding where I have my secondary residence. I am lucky to receive his very informative householders.
We need to take care of people who are at risk. Collectively, we are going to have to make huge sacrifices. For example, Quebec decided to put its economy on hold for three weeks in order to slow the spread of the virus. That is a collective choice that we decided to take together. The goal is to save lives and keep people healthy. In my opinion, that is a much more important value than economic values.
Once the pandemic is behind us, we can look forward to a quick economic recovery so that we are all in good health and have money by the new year.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 5:14 [p.2086]
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
We negotiated the day before. We were in constant contact with the government. We were fine with this morning's agreement, which was quite similar to the agreement before us tonight. We believe that we need to move forward in this time of crisis and that the situation is urgent. We are thinking of those who have filed EI claims and who are wondering when they will get their cheque.
We want to expedite the process, not slow it down by 12 hours or more. Since the Conservative Party was the one holding up the process, we decided that it should be the one to consult with the government and then update us on the new changes.
We were informed of each iteration. We participated in the meeting with the Minister of Finance and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons at every stage so that we were well aware of what was happening and could share our opinions.
We were there the whole time, but we were ready sooner. As I said earlier, this 12-hour delay was a matter of partisanship. I am looking at what this bill contains compared to what we had before us this morning. I will not comment on the fact that the Conservatives took 12 hours and almost derailed the entire day, which should have ended a lot earlier, but I have my—
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-03-25 5:16 [p.2086]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent intervention.
Obviously the priority at this time is public health. We have to take measures, including for Canada Post. We need measures and the necessary funding for everything my colleague just listed because we cannot allow essential public services to become a contamination vector.
We have to reassure the public. People who get their mail have to be safe. Mail carriers that I know need to be kept just as safe as the workers in the rest of the public service.
I totally agree that measures need to be taken.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, the motion I want to speak to has not been formally moved yet. I am not sure what that means from a procedural standpoint. I will proceed and the House can decide thereafter.
To all Quebeckers back home concerned about the spread of a virus that may, in some cases, be life-threatening, I wish them courage.
I wish a speedy recovery to all those who will get sick in the coming weeks, including, of course, the Prime Minister's wife.
It is also my wish that we deal with this challenge before us swiftly, wisely and carefully. I ask that we restrain our propensity for playing politics and instead become protectors of the common good. That is what the Bloc Québécois will do.
Nevertheless, the suspension of Parliament should not mean and will not mean that the Bloc Québécois will be less present or less vigilant with regard to anything that might be detrimental to the interests of Quebec. The Bloc will continue to offer proposals to better serve those interests.
In light of how vigorously and quickly the coronavirus is spreading, numerous possible responses have been proposed. Time will tell which responses were appropriate. We will have to learn from this experience.
One thing that seems to have been handled poorly and inconsistently is border crossings: protocols, equipment, training, detection, referrals, quarantine and, in some cases, some level of shutdown.
If it cannot be avoided, accelerating an economic slowdown—I realize that is an oxymoron—recession or crisis is a cure that is worse than the disease in some ways. History has also taught us that the earliest victims of a crisis are the most vulnerable members of society.
Members can see why the Bloc Québécois is pushing for major accommodations in the employment insurance system and for changes that give seniors in the regions more purchasing power as soon as possible. Parliament may not be sitting, but the Bloc Québécois will be watching closely and speaking up. We were elected to be here and stand up for our people. We understand why this has to happen, we accept it, and we were part of the conversation that led to this morning's motion. However, we will insist that lost sitting days be made up, especially given the minority government context.
The coronavirus pandemic will leave an indelible mark on our planet, on Quebec and on Canada. Our response to the pandemic will also have a long-lasting economic impact. Let us therefore choose wisely.
Finally, it is important that compassion be the main principle guiding our decisions and actions. I remain committed to working to mitigate, as much as possible, the impact and suffering this crisis might have on Quebeckers.
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