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Results: 1 - 60 of 292
View Heather McPherson Profile
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-08-12 12:27 [p.2748]
Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That the House recognize that reopening businesses and the economy entails taking far more action to support parents, especially women, who are worried about going back to work without knowing their kids will be safely cared for in child care and school, and therefore call on the government to increase its transfer to provinces and territories for affordable child care by $2 billion, transfer funding to provinces and territories to support a safe return to school, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure all federal funds are dedicated to the health and safety of children across the country, while ensuring the transfers to Quebec are unconditional.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-07-22 14:20 [p.2724]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. It touched on a number of very specific issues, including preventing the use of hard drugs, but also mental health issues, which are very important in the context of COVID-19 and have played out in ways that may be hard to predict.
In light of this, I submit to my colleague that it is important to recognize the role that Quebec and the provinces can play in these very specific issues, which are generally related to social services and health.
Furthermore, I would like to know whether she thinks there was any useful or legitimate reason for the federal government to impose conditions before it would transfer money that is critically needed for dealing with these problems, which are so pressing right now.
Would she not agree that the federal government should just have gone ahead and transferred the money, knowing that the provinces and Quebec are best equipped to deal with the current concerns?
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karen McCrimmon Profile
2020-07-22 14:21 [p.2724]
Mr. Speaker, it is a difficult issue. The federal government is trying to make sure that services and access to mental health treatments are fairly equal across the provinces. We do not want it so that in one province they are fully supported and in another province they are not. That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to make sure that the level of support is equal across the country, because some provinces will need more in child care, will need more in mental health, will need more in addressing the opioid crisis than other provinces will. We wanted to make sure that at least we have that baseline standard right across the country. That was the reason behind that negotiation.
View Marilène Gill Profile
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-07-21 14:02 [p.2686]
Madam Speaker, people in the regions of Quebec are once again being held hostage by Air Canada and a government measure.
On June 30, we learned that Air Canada, which is heavily subsidized by the federal government using taxpayer money, was suspending 30 regional routes indefinitely and closing a number of service counters in eastern Quebec for good, including those in Gaspé, Mont-Joli, and Baie-Comeau, in my riding.
Since the announcement, the government has shown zero leadership to support Quebec, which is itself looking for solutions. Even the Minister of National Revenue, the member for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, whose constituents have been hit hard by Air Canada's pressure tactics, has said nothing about this. Her silence speaks volumes and is typical of the government's absolute failure to take action on this issue.
The consensus among people who live in the regions, mayors, reeves and the Government of Quebec is clear, and the Bloc Québécois has supported that consensus since the announcement. It is time for the federal government to support sustainable solutions so that the regions are never again cut off from major centres as they are now. The economic vitality of Quebec's regions is at stake.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Madam Speaker, on July 1, Air Canada announced its decision to drop 30 regional routes and close eight stations at regional airports, including many in eastern Quebec. This was a devastating blow for my entire region, and especially for the Mont-Joli airport, which will lose over 30% of its revenues without the Air Canada counter.
Local players quickly joined forces to try to come up with a new model for reliable, sustainable regional air service. Various project proponents saw this news as an opportunity to transform the regional transportation model by proposing an alternative to private companies, since we are talking about providing a service, not a product. Air transportation is a service that should help revitalize a region.
The federal government must commit to supporting the Quebec initiatives rather than continue to stubbornly subsidize private airlines that abandon Quebec's regions overnight. The government needs to wake up and recognize that an air transportation model should serve the interests of the people, not the shareholders of private corporations.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Madam Chair, has the government said no to the request made repeatedly by Quebec, since 2017, to transfer some $1.5 billion for social housing, for which not a penny has yet been sent?
View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, as the member opposite noted, we have been with the provinces and territories from the very beginning, from the initial tranche of $500 million, to ensure they had the necessary supplies, equipment and personnel, and were ready to deal with any influx of cases and changes to their medical—
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-06-17 15:52 [p.2497]
Madam Chair, I am very happy and honoured that the leader of the Bloc Québécois and hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly agreed to share his time with me. It is almost too great an honour, but, given that this is an opportunity to continue what I passionately started this afternoon, I will certainly not turn it down.
Like the leader of the Bloc Québécois, I pointed out yesterday that the government offered $14 billion to Quebec and the provinces to cover some of the expenses incurred as a result of the current pandemic. Beyond the obvious fact that this amount is hugely inadequate, there is also another issue: The $14 billion come with certain conditions.
Quebec and the provinces have rejected these conditions, and as a result, the money is not being paid. The funds were to be used to purchase masks, among other things. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues, and the masks have not been purchased because the federal government insists on imposing conditions. It does not manage any hospitals, long-term care facilities, child care networks or public transportation networks, but it claims to know all about them.
When we asked that the government provide money without strings attached, a genius across the aisle said we were asking for a blank cheque. It so happens that our friends across the aisle know all about blank cheques. Despite having a minority government, for weeks now the Liberals have been asking Parliament to give them blank cheques.
At first, realizing that we needed to help people, we decided to work in a spirit of collaboration to help our fellow citizens who have been sorely affected by the pandemic. We collaborated, because we believed that was our role, as parliamentarians.
Some people think that, because we are the opposition, we always have to oppose the government. Like my colleagues from Beloeil—Chambly and La Prairie, I once sat in an assembly where almost 80% of bills were passed unanimously. Contrary to what the government House leader says, the opposition is not only there to oppose and squabble. On the contrary, we have collaborated from the very beginning. However, when those with whom we have been collaborating do not keep their word and prefer to use the powers we gave them to do pretty much anything they want, regardless of the commitments they made to us, we are less inclined to keep on collaborating.
We did not close the door. Last week we proposed that we suspend the sitting so that the party leaders could agree on how to proceed with passing the bill to grant more money for people with disabilities. It was the Liberal Party that said no. The Liberals did not want to have to negotiate. They are acting as if they were a majority government that can demand blank cheques and they do not care about anyone else. If we do not give them a blank cheque, that is it. There is no negotiation.
In the end, all kinds of people, and especially people with disabilities, should have been getting more money, but they are not getting it. We ended up in this situation because the Liberal Party decided not to allow leaders to negotiate and because it shut down Parliament.
Since Parliament is not sitting, aside from the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, we cannot pass legislation. The government cannot introduce a bill because Parliament has been shut down. That, right there, is the truth.
Today, the government is asking for yet another blank cheque. This time, the cheque is for the supplementary estimates, so that the government can continue its weeks-long spending spree. The way the process works is that we initially have to give the government permission to spend some funds before we finish considering the votes, so that government operations can continue.
Canada is not like the United States, where people get laid off for stretches of time until the budget is agreed upon.
That would be how the process works normally, but we are not proceeding normally. The debate on the supply bill, which we have to vote on, is happening under highly extraordinary circumstances.
As the Bloc Québécois leader said moments ago, the government seems to have once again negotiated support so that it can keep spending like it wants to and so the Prime Minister can keep putting on a show in front of his cottage every day without worrying about Parliament. He was given the power to spend, so he takes the money, talks it over with his ministers—
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-06-17 15:59 [p.2498]
Madam Chair, I get the feeling that the government House leader's Latin roots are coming out in the House. We keep being reminded that the government is negotiating, talking and discussing things with the Government of Quebec, but nothing ever comes of it.
As I said yesterday, it is almost July, and the construction season has begun.
When will you finally give Quebec the $1.4 billion intended for social housing? Work has not yet started, the needs are there—
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-06-17 16:00 [p.2498]
Madam Chair, despite my Latin roots, I am going to remain very calm.
I would simply point out to my hon. colleague that the Bloc Québécois has spent its entire existence telling Quebeckers that they should say yes, but now all the Bloc can say is no.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
That is perfect, Madam Chair.
There is a tremendous need for social housing in Quebec. The federal government has come to an agreement with all provinces except Quebec. There is a terrific program called AccèsLogis Québec.
When will the $1.4 billion owed Quebec be invested so we can build social housing?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2020-06-17 16:08 [p.2499]
Madam Chair, we are currently having discussions with the Government of Quebec.
This is an absolute priority for both governments.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to talk about the work being done by Canada's six regional economic development agencies and what they have done to support Canadian businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is having a huge impact on Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Because of the lockdown, a big part of our economy has had to be put on hold. Everyone's lives have been turned upside down, and that is especially true for the owners and employees of small and medium-sized businesses.
Since the crisis began, I have spoken, mainly virtually, with thousands of business and association leaders from across the country. They all talk about different day-to-day realities, but there is a common thread. They are working very hard for their employees, their communities and their families. After several weeks of lockdown and, for many of them, after temporarily closing their businesses, they are now reaching their limit. These businesses provide good local jobs and are a source of local pride. They form the foundation of a strong middle class. They are the backbone of our economy and, above all, our communities.
Our government realized very quickly that it was important to help businesses through the crisis, and we quickly implemented measures. We launched the largest economic assistance program in Canadian history. The measures we implemented include the Canada emergency wage subsidy, which helps businesses retain workers and rehire the ones they had to lay off. We also allowed businesses to defer GST/HST and customs duty payments. We created the Canada emergency business account, which basically provides $40,000 loans. This measure includes a $10,000 subsidy if the loan is repaid within two years. We remained responsive to needs, and we adjusted and improved the assistance to ensure that it would help as many Canadians as possible. In short, we expanded the social safety net.
However, one thing I heard from business owners is that despite the scope of the economic and social safety net in place, the situation remains difficult for small businesses. We asked ourselves two questions. Number one, how can we help businesses that are slipping through the cracks? Number two, what tools can we use to provide that help, knowing that, as they said, business owners prefer to turn to institutions close to home, ones that they trust?
To address those two concerns, we developed a special assistance program delivered by our six regional economic development agencies. These agencies are on the ground. They are in the best position to help the workers and SMEs at the heart of our communities. They know them.
That is how we came up with the regional relief and recovery fund, or RRRF, which has a total budget of $962 million. This fund is administered by our economic development agencies, either directly or indirectly through key partners such as CFDCs or the PME MTL network, as I recently had the opportunity to announce in Montreal. We made sure to be where businesses need us to be.
The purpose of this fund is to support businesses that are central to their local economy, that do not qualify for existing federal programs and that have needs that are not covered by these programs. It offers SMEs and organizations that are having cash flow problems emergency financial support to help them stay in business, including by helping them pay their employees and their fixed costs.
We must protect our main streets and our local businesses, and this new fund gives us the means to do that.
As I mentioned, the challenges faced by small businesses are not felt equally in all regions. This is particularly true in our Canadian northern territories. That is why in addition to the regional relief and recovery fund, $15 million was allocated for the creation of the northern business relief fund. With this fund, we target further needs for immediate relief for SMEs and ensure the stability of businesses and sectors that are vital to the recovery of our northern economy.
As members know, main street businesses are the lifeblood of a community. COVID-19 hit them hard. Many businesses responded by broadening their offerings and complementing traditional storefronts with online shops to attract new customers and reach new markets. This created an opportunity.
We have a unique chance to help them now, and moving forward, to not just recover but come back stronger and better equipped to compete in tomorrow's economy. This is why we launched a new “Digital Main Street” platform, which will support almost 23,000 businesses across Ontario, helping them not just survive in the new economy but thrive. Thanks to over $42 million in federal funding through FedDev Ontario, this innovative program will help businesses go digital.
We also know that challenges do not stop at main street. That is why we also provided $7.5 million for the recovery activation program delivered by the Toronto Region Board of Trade. This program will provide customized training for more than 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses to digitize their operations and bring their business online.
Our response to the challenges small businesses are facing in the current crisis would have been incomplete without acknowledging that certain sectors have been more directly weakened and require special attention.
The tourism sector, which employs 1.89 million people in Canada, has been hit hard, and we are working tirelessly to mitigate the impacts on the Canadian economy. While the sector can benefit from the strong support measures the government has put in place, we knew that additional efforts would be required as the summer season approached and the economy was reopening.
On May 31, I announced an investment of over $40 million in the tourism sector. This investment will directly support more than 30 high-potential projects, such as the Point Grondine eco park development, which will offer visitors a new indigenous tourism experience in northern Ontario, a region you know very well, Mr. Speaker. The $40 million will also support more than 100 tourism organizations in southern and northern Ontario, as well as in western Canada, to help them adapt their operations to this new reality and drive visitors back into local communities as the economy reopens.
We know that the indigenous tourism sector is particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. To bolster this industry, our government has also announced a new stimulus development fund that will provide $16 million to support the indigenous tourism sector.
We continue to work with economic stakeholders in the tourism industry in Quebec, the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada to make a real difference in the tourism sector in eastern Canada as well.
Investments and initiatives like the ones I have presented today are crucial to the success not just of our businesses but of our communities. The decisions we make now will have a major impact on future prosperity, and we choose to invest.
Our message to workers and businesses is clear: We have been here for them with measures and support, and we will get through this together.
I encourage businesses and organizations to make use of the measures that the Government of Canada has put in place to help employers, workers and individuals across the country.
I also invite my fellow MPs to tell business people in their ridings about the wide range of support programs available and encourage them to apply.
We are working with you, and we will keep working with you to create good local jobs and build a stronger economy in our communities and greater prosperity for everyone despite these difficult times.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-06-17 18:18 [p.2521]
Madam Chair, I understand that there may be a second wave in this pandemic and that we will not necessarily have the time to return to the House in the meantime to consider new votes. I would therefore like to know where is the money that the provinces and Quebec will need to deal with a second wave.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, we are in talks with Quebec and the provinces to decide what we must do together to prepare for a second wave and to ensure a safe and healthy recovery for all Canadians and Quebeckers.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-04-20 11:04 [p.2159]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. This is my earliest opportunity.
I must start by reflecting on the enormous tragedy that took place over the weekend in Nova Scotia. I am sure that none of us is unaffected by this horrific event. That tragedy only adds to the urgency of my request.
Your role, Mr. Speaker, is to protect the rights and privileges of every member in this place. Historically, the Speaker has also been responsible for the physical safety of members and indeed of all who work in Parliament. That we are currently in a global pandemic due to the COVID-19 virus is clear. The impact of that pandemic is the reason that this House, by unanimous consent on March 13, 2020, agreed to adjourn until this date.
However, I submit that the date of April 20 was a mere placeholder. No one knew on March 13 what living in a pandemic meant. We knew nothing about flattening the curve. Now we do. I submit that when we agreed to the adjournment on March 13, we placed in that motion a simple expedient to continue adjournment in keeping with public health advice. All that had to happen until any time yesterday was for the House leaders of the four larger parties to sign a letter to you, Mr. Speaker, requesting further adjournment. The responsibility for such a letter not being sent rests on one party in this place, and now here we are.
The rights and privileges of many members are prima facie violated by any motion to proceed with regular sittings of the House in which they cannot participate. All members from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador cannot participate under provincial quarantine orders without having a 14-day quarantine upon returning to their home province and must isolate even from their families.
This is particularly painful, given that today, in the aftermath of those terrible murders, our colleagues from Nova Scotia cannot gather. They cannot console their bereaved constituents. None of us, from the Prime Minister to the Governor General, can go to Nova Scotia to console them. Our hearts go out to each and every Nova Scotian and those across Canada affected. My colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands, a former Nova Scotia resident and proud Cape Bretoner, knows one of the family members of a victim. This is a terrible time to be debating procedural motions in Parliament.
For my other colleague, the hon. member for Fredericton, her rights and privileges are violated. Should she attempt to represent her constituents physically in this place, which is her duty and her right, she would be required to self-isolate from her husband and children on her return, for 14 days.
Quebec members have also been asked by their government not to travel. The idea of a small number of MPs meeting in Ottawa violates their privileges and offends the efforts of the Quebec government.
The rights of Quebec MPs have been violated.
Parliament is not a debating club for the benefits of large organized political groups or parties. Political parties are not mentioned in our Constitution. Parliament is an assembly of duly elected members. All MPs are equal, just as their constituents and constituencies are equal.
On this day we are in uncharted territory. As Green MPs, we seek to rely on the rules and procedures of this place that have protected Westminster parliamentary democracies for centuries. Those rules evolve, but most fundamentally, the Speaker's role is to protect the rights of each and every MP.
In a pandemic, this surely means that the Speaker should find a question of privilege and, in light of the affront to Parliament of continuing debate on the matters, I ask that you, Mr. Speaker, find a prima facie question of privilege and that you forthwith refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs currently meeting virtually. I also ask that you take protection of the House into your own hands, deciding to adjourn immediately sine die and that you inform us when we shall resume sittings of the House, based on public health advice as to when it is possible for every MP to exercise his or her rights and privileges in this place. I also ask that you continue to pursue the unanimous wishes of those in this place under the existing unanimous consent orders of April 11, to pursue without delay a virtual question period and to reconvene only when a compelling legislative need is identified.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2020-04-20 11:10 [p.2160]
Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of points with respect to the hon. member's question of privilege.
First, I would remind the House that the procedure and House affairs committee is dealing, in a very short time frame, with the issue of a virtual Parliament.
Second, we would reserve the right to respond to the member's question of privilege.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-04-20 18:31 [p.2226]
Madam Chair, I thank the minister for her response.
For millions of taxpayers, it is important to restore some fairness. These measures are unprecedented, and there will be a lot of debt. Those who have the means to contribute must do so and stop fleeing to islands in the south with a golden parachute.
My question is about a completely different topic, the housing agreement with Quebec. To my knowledge, this agreement is yet to be signed. The money in this agreement would obviously be huge for Quebec. Would the government be willing to give a little, sign the agreement and transfer the money, if it is still available?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
2020-04-20 18:32 [p.2226]
Madam Chair, the hon. member has raised an important question with respect to the bilateral housing agreement between Canada and Quebec.
We are working very hard through our officials and making sure that we strike an agreement that, of course, reflects the unique desires, structure and formula that Quebec has asked us to consider. We are finding ways to do that while also remaining true to the national housing strategy and National Housing Act.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised earlier today by the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith concerning sittings of the House during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the question raised by the hon. member deals with the manner in which the House will conduct business involving all members in the coming weeks, as the country continues to be confronted by a crisis which is without precedent in recent history, I thought it important to return to the House with a ruling quickly.
During his intervention, the member alleged that the rights and privileges of several members would be violated by any motion to proceed with the business of the House while the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. According to the member, many of his colleagues are unable to physically be in Ottawa to participate in debate because of their obligation to follow quarantine orders when they return to their respective province. In response to the exceptional circumstances we are facing, the member requested that the Chair postpone the resumption of the House business to a later date, in accordance with public health guidelines.
It is important to recall that although the Speaker fully understands the sentiments expressed by the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, he is bound by the Standing Orders and decisions of the House in this matter. The house has the exclusive right to govern its internal affairs, schedule its work and establish the conduct of its proceedings. In this regard, during the sitting of Saturday, April 11, a decision was made to adjourn until today, and this order was respected. It is not within the Speaker's purview to question a decision of this nature made by the House.
I also wish to underscore that, both in the motions that the House has adopted in the past few weeks and again today, there has been a recognition of the very particular circumstances in which we find ourselves. For example, the House has recognized the need for members to respect physical distancing and has provided ways that members can participate in proceedings remotely. These are but two examples of how, with the co-operation of members from all sides, the House has shown flexibility in adjusting its rules and practices and demonstrated that our proceedings are quite adaptable. In addition, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has been charged with evaluating other ways of managing business in the current circumstances and I am confident that it will be able to suggest an acceptable course of action for everyone.
The motion passed today is another example of this approach, which permits the House to decide how it wishes to conduct its affairs. A careful reading of the motion does not reveal anything that could in any way prevent members from travelling to Ottawa to participate in the proceedings of the House.
Instead, their movements would be limited upon returning to their community, as the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith explained. I know that all hon. members wish to follow the advice of our public health agencies, as the House Administration has been doing from the beginning of this crisis. I also recognize that for those members who travel to participate in the proceedings of the House, those instructions may have significant consequences for them and their families. However, the key question is to determine whether or not they can fulfill their parliamentary duties.
In my view, it is not for the Chair to dictate to members the manner and degree to which they will participate in the proceedings of the House; as the House has itself determined, the choice rests with them. For this reason, I cannot find there is a prima facie question of privilege in this case.
I thank members for their attention.
Before we return to our constituencies to resume our work there, I would like to take a moment to extend my thanks to all those who continue to provide support so the House of Commons can fulfill its responsibilities to Canadians.
I thank all the members who are here in the House. They are working under unusual conditions, and I appreciate it.
I would also like to thank our staff in Ottawa and in the members' constituencies for their unflagging support as members carry out their duties both here in the chamber and in the communities they represent.
The amazing House Administration, Library of Parliament and Parliamentary Protective Service teams also deserve our sincere appreciation. Their support made it possible for us to sit today confidently and safely. I thank them for showing Canadians that the House of Commons is hard at work despite the pandemic.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks go to the women and men who care for us, keep us safe and keep us fed. We are deeply grateful to all front-line and health workers who, under the most difficult circumstances, are making every effort to ensure we will get through this together stronger than ever.
Accordingly, pursuant to order made earlier this day, the House stands adjourned until Monday, May 25, at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 8:18 p.m.)
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-03-12 11:03 [p.1984]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciated my colleague's passionate speech.
Quebec has had a pharmacare program since 1996, and it might even be due for some upgrades. Can my colleague explain why no other province has adopted such a program since 1996?
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2020-03-12 11:03 [p.1984]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to sit with my hon. colleague on the health committee.
The member pointed out that Quebec has been a leader in this country on universal pharmacare. It is the only province right now that covers all of its citizens' pharmaceutical needs.
There are some criticisms of the model that Quebec uses, because it has a hybrid model that requires employers to cover their employees, while anybody else is covered by the public system. The health committee heard evidence that we should specifically not adopt that model for all of Canada, because Quebec has the highest per capita cost of delivering prescription drugs in the country.
Consequently, New Democrats believe it will benefit the Government of Quebec and Quebeckers to remain involved in the project we propose, considering its clear benefits to the people of Quebec, but we totally respect that it is Quebec's decision to retain its own system. It could absolutely withdraw from national pharmacare and use those funds to improve its existing system.
The NDP would like to sit down with all provinces, including Quebec, and look at how we can build a national system for delivering pharmacare, similar to the way we worked together on health care. However, it will absolutely be up to Quebec to decide if it wants to opt in or opt out, with federal compensation, because we respect Quebec's ability to do so if that is Quebec's choice.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-03-12 12:03 [p.1994]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Montarville.
I am pleased to speak to the motion moved by my NDP colleagues.
To start, the motion is calling on the House to:
(a) acknowledge the government’s intention to introduce and implement national pharmacare;
(b) call on the government to implement the full recommendations of the final report of the Hoskins Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare....
I will stop there.
I am a member of the Bloc Québécois and a member from Quebec. During the last election campaign, I pledged to be the voice of Quebeckers in the House of Commons and to defend their interests. When a national assembly speaks unanimously on an issue concerning the relationship between Quebec and Ottawa, the Bloc Québécois takes notice and ensures that this consensus is echoed in the House of Commons.
I will read the motion that was adopted unanimously by the National Assembly on June 14.
THAT the National Assembly acknowledge the federal report [the Hoskins report] recommending the establishment of a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan;
THAT it reaffirm the Government of Québec's exclusive jurisdiction over health;
THAT it also reaffirm that Québec has had its own general prescription insurance plan for 20 years;
THAT it indicate to the federal government that Québec refuses to adhere to a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan;
THAT it ask the Government of Québec to maintain its prescription drug insurance plan and that it demand full financial compensation from the federal government if a project for a pan-Canadian pharmacare plan is officially tabled.
Our National Assembly is speaking with one voice across party lines. It is fair to say that, when our National Assembly, a parliament of the people, of the Quebec nation, speaks with one voice across party lines, it is Quebec that is talking.
I would have liked my NDP colleague to take into account the will of the Quebec nation in the wording of his motion, especially since the 2005 Sherbrooke declaration is part of his party's history. The Sherbrooke declaration recognized asymmetrical federalism and intended to give Quebec the systematic right to opt out. It does not sound as though the NDP wanted to take into account the unanimous voice of Quebeckers in this motion. That is why the Bloc Québécois will vote against it.
The more progressive the successive federal governments, the more they seem to get bored of their areas of jurisdiction and their responsibilities. The government wants to create social programs. That is a noble intention, but it falls outside the government's jurisdiction.
When it comes to health, the federal government would have been more help to the Quebec nation and the various provinces if it had kept its 2015 election promise to increase health transfers. More than $4 billion over four years could have been invested in the respective health networks in order to take care of our population and fulfill our responsibilities.
The federal government has a hard time managing programs like Phoenix, and Canadians are not likely to forget that anytime soon. Rather than try to assert jurisdiction over health care with respect to access to medication, the federal government should focus on controlling the cost of medication. Drug prices are soaring, and the government is being complacent by refusing to immediately enforce the new Patented Medicines Regulations, which would save $9 billion over 10 years.
I began my speech with such enthusiasm, but I must not forget to stop after 10 minutes because I am sharing my time with the member for Montarville, who is listening to me very intently right now.
The Bloc has more faith in Quebec than it does in Canada, so it is surprising that a progressive party like the NDP wants a nation that is behind the times compared to ours to tell us how to be progressive.
Generally speaking, if we compare the two, Quebec's social safety net is broader than Canada's. Quebec also has the best family policy in North America, with parental leave and child care. Post-secondary studies are easier to access in Quebec than anywhere else in North America, and we have low tuition fees and plenty of financial aid. Our tax system is the most progressive in North America because income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, is 0.31 for Quebec compared to 0.42 for the United States and 0.37 for Canada.
I would now like to talk about Quebec's pharmacare program, which has been in place since 1996. Yes, we have our own pharmacare program, and all Quebeckers are covered. It may not be perfect, but it is unique in North America.
Under Quebec's Act respecting prescription drug insurance, every person living in Quebec must be covered at all times by a pharmacare program. Workers and their families must be covered by private insurers. The rest of the population is covered by the public system administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec. It is therefore a hybrid system. The public portion of the program costs the Quebec government $3.6 billion.
However, recognizing that the Quebec system is the best on the continent and emphasizing Quebec's right to make its own decisions does not mean that our system is perfect. Here is the problem. For the public part of the program, the government has managed to negotiate lower drug prices and limit dispensing fees. Pharmacists, and especially drug companies, have made up for that by inflating the prices they charge private insurers, so much so that the cost of private insurance has skyrocketed. That means more money not going into workers' pockets.
This problem is being exacerbated by a transformation in the pharmaceutical industry. It has been quite a while since the industry discovered any new molecules that could be used for a wide range of diseases. Newer medications are targeted at narrow groups of people, which means that research costs are spread over fewer people. As a result, costs are soaring.
Between 2007 and 2017, the average annual cost of treatment for the top 10 selling patented medicines in Canada increased by 800%. The number of medicines with annual per-patient costs of at least $10,000 increased sevenfold, from 20 to 135. These high-cost medicines account for 40% of new patented medicines. Fully 30% of insurer spending is allocated to these medicines, which cover less than 2% of beneficiaries.
Quebec's hybrid system may have reached the limit of what it can do for Quebeckers, but that decision is up to them. Quebeckers are perfectly able to look after their system and make improvements.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-03-12 12:13 [p.1995]
Madam Speaker, I want to clarify something. My colleague who introduced the motion was very specific and said that we absolutely do recognize that Quebec has its own system. If it is Quebec's will that it continue on with its own system of pharmacare, then that is its choice. We wanted to provide as much choice as possible to the people of Quebec.
In fact, even though Quebec is ahead of the curve with its public and private system, Quebeckers are among those who spend the most per capita on prescription drugs and 10% of them cannot afford the drugs they need.
Even though Quebec has this ahead-of-the-curve system, would it not be something that the Bloc Québécois could consider in terms of improving things for the people of Quebec, that they listen to what the NDP has to say, explore the national version and see if that actually helps Quebeckers in their province?
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-03-12 12:14 [p.1995]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
When a program falls under my jurisdiction and the parliament of another nation compels me, through legislation, to negotiate something I did not need to negotiate in the first place, then I think that is a good reason to include such a statement in a motion.
Since that intent is not in the motion, we can say what we want. Quebec is being invited to a meeting that the Quebec National Assembly does not want to attend.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 12:15 [p.1995]
Madam Speaker, Canada is a great nation with many different partners. We have provincial governments. The Saskatchewan government played a critical role in terms of the health care system we have today. In many ways, it played a leadership role to ultimately having a national health care system from which the residents of Quebec, Manitoba, Atlantic Canada and B.C. have all benefited.
Quebec has played a very important role on the issue of pharmacare. Like Saskatchewan, Quebec has an opportunity to play a strong leadership role, so the residents of Quebec possibly have a more enhanced program. Would my colleague not agree that given the leadership that Quebec has demonstrated in the past, it can actually play a strong national leadership role in ensuring that Canadians from coast to coast to coast, including people in Quebec, could possibly have a better program? After all, are we not here to serve first the constituents we represent?
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-03-12 12:16 [p.1995]
Madam Speaker, I encourage the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to ask the Quebec National Assembly that question.
I understand that members want to improve the system, but there is a problem. If we were to insist on the 6% health transfers that Quebec is calling for, or on the 5.2% that the territories and provinces agreed upon, over a period of four years, the government would have to inject $4 billion into our health care networks. If the government just stuck to its own jurisdiction and sent that money straight to the front lines to help Quebeckers and Canadians instead of creating programs that would siphon off some of that money for overhead, then I think that would be more beneficial for everyone.
It is one thing to claim to want to start a discussion with another government, and I urge him to talk to all parties in the Quebec National Assembly, but it is a whole other thing for the parliament of another nation to force the Quebec nation to sit down at the table against its will.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-03-12 12:17 [p.1995]
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Montcalm on his excellent speech. I could almost say that there is nothing more to add. In fact, he said it all and left me with practically nothing to say.
In any event, as the Standing Orders would have it, I will add my voice to that of the hon. member for Montcalm. There may be some overlap, but that will only illustrate that the Bloc Québécois speaks in the House with one voice, the voice of Quebec.
We have heard our NDP colleagues present the same arguments in the House a few times now, either during question period or in their interventions. I have heard some extremely compelling arguments about the difficulty many Canadians have paying for the drugs they need for their health. I have to say that I appreciate the arguments being made by our NDP colleagues and why they are making them here.
The problem is that they are making these arguments in the wrong parliament. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, and the new version that was imposed on us in 1982, which changed nothing in this area, health is the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. The federal government has a very bad habit of meddling in the provinces' jurisdictions and neglecting its own. Rather than looking after its own affairs, it seems that it is always tempted to stick its nose in the affairs of others.
We saw this, for example, in the recent crisis involving the Wet'suwet'en. Under the Constitution, the federal government still has fiduciary responsibility for first nations in Canada, but the Prime Minister continued to repeat that it was up to the provinces and police forces to intervene. It was a crisis that strictly affected western Canada and relations between the federal government and a first nation, but every day the Prime Minister repeated that it was up to the provinces and the police to intervene.
The federal government meddled in the health sector. It left a bad taste in our mouth, and we are still talking about it today. My colleague referred to this, and I would like to expand on this subject.
One day, the federal government woke up and wondered whether it would be a good idea if all Canadians across the country had the same pharmacare coverage. The provinces answered that health care is their domain. The government then offered to foot 50% of the bill, hoping that would get the provinces on board. The provinces approved and said they agreed.
Today, the federal government is covering about 17% of the bill. Right now, we have to fight tooth and nail just to get the federal government to do the bare minimum and cover the increases to system costs, since the provincial health transfer escalator is 3% a year. However, health care costs across Canada, especially in Quebec, are rising at a rate of about 5%. We would like the federal government to increase its contribution, not to 50% as initially promised, but to a mere 25%. We are therefore requesting an annual escalator of just over 5%, but even that is asking too much.
For Quebec, it is a case of once bitten, twice shy. We are not exactly eager to have the federal government put its paws all over this yet again. The Quebec government gets the money to pay for its own pharmacare plan from the overall health care budget, but this overall budget is being underfunded by the federal government.
Are we going to let the federal government put its paws all over health care again? Certainly not. We suffered through previous federal government interference in health care. Years and decades later, we are still asking the federal government to reverse the changes that were made to health transfers by the previous Conservative government, which capped them at 3% a year.
That does not cover rising health care costs. There is a shortfall because annual increases to federal health transfers have been anemic. There is a shortfall, which means that the federal contribution to health is actually shrinking. That is a fact. Do we want the federal government to do more? No, for goodness' sake, no more federal involvement. The more it does, the more harm it causes. We do not want that.
My NDP colleague said she understands that Quebec is distinct and wants its own system. Why is that not reflected in the motion, as my colleague from Montcalm requested? This is the second time this has happened. The first time, the New Democrats were so surprised that the Bloc Québécois voted against their motion. I turned to the NDP's House leader, who wanted to me support his motion today, and I asked him why the motion did not say anything about letting Quebec maintain its own drug program and giving it the right to opt out with full compensation. The NDP's latest motion says nothing about that either. Why is it so hard for them to understand?
We are not going to make any commitments based solely on our colleagues' empty words. Empty words have caused nothing but trouble for Quebec and the provinces. Provinces are still struggling with what came to be called a fiscal imbalance. The tax base they were allocated to fulfill their responsibilities was far below what they needed. At the federal level, however, the tax base exceeded the government's needs, which means that, historically, the federal government has ended up with a lot of money. Not knowing what to do with that money, it decided it would be a good idea to take it and stomp right over provincial jurisdictions.
If the government is so flush with cash to invest in health care, it should increase transfers so that the provinces and Quebec can meet their needs. We are facing a global public health crisis, yet we are still quibbling over an increase to health transfers.
I think that if the federal government wants to do something, it should focus on its own areas of responsibility. With regard to prescription drugs, there are two things that fall to the federal government. First, the federal government needs to increase health transfers. That is the first thing. As I mentioned, Quebec has its own pharmacare plan, but it is funded from the overall health care budget. If the government increases its health transfer contributions, it will give the Quebec government some breathing room, which will help the province maintain its pharmacare plan and its health care system in general.
The second thing that the federal government needs to do is something we have been long waiting for, but it always gets put off. It involves amending the regulations so that Canadians stop overpaying for drugs. Our drug prices are aligned with those of several other countries, which, for a variety of market-related reasons, traditionally set prices too high. The United States is a classic example. The government needs to amend the regulations and stop aligning Canada's drug prices with those of the U.S. That alone will substantially change the cost of medication.
Instead of trying to meddle even more in Quebec and provincial jurisdictions, you should mind your own business and do what you have to do. One thing you must do at the federal level is amend the regulations.
View Yves Perron Profile
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-03-12 12:45 [p.1999]
Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague on his intervention.
I would like to ask him about the level of intervention being suggested by the NDP. Why do they fail to understand that health is a jurisdiction of Quebec?
My two colleagues, the hon. members for Montarville and Montcalm, clearly asked the NDP why they omitted from their proposal the fact that Quebec has the right to opt out with full compensation. I heard them say, off mike, that it is in their platform. I am sorry, but to us platforms are vague promises. Canada has made plenty of vague promises. I could spend 45 minutes listing those promises and run out of time. We no longer believe the vague promises.
What was the real purpose of this omission?
I am sorry to have to vote against the motion. We are in favour of pharmacare, but we are here to protect Quebeckers and the National Assembly. We will have to vote against the motion.
What is the real reason the NDP omitted Quebec's right to opt out? Did they want to come across as more progressive than we are?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 12:47 [p.2000]
Madam Speaker, our health critic said today that it is part of our policy and it is in our platform.
We hope to have a program that works. Quebeckers can participate in the program if they wish. We are open to them joining it if they want to. We do not want to begin the process with the assumption that they will not participate. We want to convince them to join it, but we recognize that it is up to them.
View Yves Perron Profile
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-03-12 13:57 [p.2010]
Madam Speaker, I will go back to the question I asked earlier. Why does the motion not include an option for Quebec and any other province to opt out of the program with full compensation? That would have enabled us to work together instead of forcing us to vote against the motion. We agree with our colleagues' emotional pleas. We would have liked to see it in writing. We no longer have faith in promises.
Why did they not put it in writing?
View Peter Julian Profile
Madam Speaker, it goes without saying. Of course we are talking to Quebeckers about this. I spent more than 10 years of my life in Quebec. I lived in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, in the Eastern Townships, in Montreal and in the Outaouais. The current pharmacare program is good, but it should be improved. That is what Quebeckers say when we talk to them about this. Too many pharmaceuticals are not covered.
If the federal government contributed its share, then of course Quebec could decide how to spend it. That might compensate, but it would also help improve the program. This is in Quebeckers' best interest. It is in everyone's interest to have a pharmacare program so that nobody has to beg or borrow money or go without the medications they need.
View Caroline Desbiens Profile
Mr. Speaker, events all over the world are being cancelled due to the coronavirus. Festivals in Quebec are subject to the same uncertainty and the same concerns. From Le Festif! in Baie-Saint-Paul, a major cultural, tourist and economic attraction for our region, to the Quebec City Summer Festival, as well as festivals of all sizes in Montreal and across Quebec, everyone is in suspense.
Can the festivals go ahead with their programming? If organizers have to cancel events, will the grant programs be maintained? What about lost ticket sales and sponsorships? We need to plan for this now.
Will they be compensated?
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Of course, I am sure she would agree with me and all members of the House that the health of Quebeckers and Canadians is our top priority.
We understand the concerns being expressed by people in the tourism and cultural sectors, and we know very well, from our discussions, that most stakeholders are worried. That is why I am having productive conversations with the ministers. I will have an opportunity to have a conversation with tourism ministers from across the country via teleconference this afternoon. We will take appropriate measures as needed.
View Denis Trudel Profile
View Denis Trudel Profile
2020-03-12 15:32 [p.2027]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her speech.
My colleague is a member from Quebec. We could discuss people's well-being and pharmacare. The problem is that this is not the right forum. Health is a provincial jurisdiction.
I would like to remind my colleague, who is from Quebec, that, on June 14, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution indicating that Quebec is calling for full and unconditional financial compensation if a Canadian pharmacare plan is officially implemented. The National Assembly clearly stated that Quebec refuses to join a Canadian pharmacare plan.
They want to negotiate with the provinces, but how will they negotiate with Quebec, which has already said that it is not on board?
View Anju Dhillon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for paying close attention to my speech.
As I mentioned several times in my speech, it is extremely important for the provinces, territories and the federal government to collaborate and work together because it is for the well-being of all Canadians and thus all Quebeckers. This is about the health and safety of our fellow citizens. It is truly important that we work with the provinces and territories.
I also wanted to say that one of the recommendations of the Hoskins report was that we work together. That will make things more efficient while respecting jurisdictions.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-03-10 10:30 [p.1846]
Madam Speaker, something stood out to me in my colleague's speech. He said that, when this type of negotiation happens in the future, the government would declare its intentions ahead of time.
I would simply like to say that the trend in the most recent trade negotiations was to protect Ontario's auto industry and Alberta's oil industry; such is the Canadian way. Quebec's interests were not necessarily taken into consideration.
The question I would like to ask my colleague is this: Should we not try to come up with a mechanism so that Quebec has a stronger voice in trade negotiations?
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-03-10 10:31 [p.1847]
Madam Speaker, I want to assure my colleague that Quebec's voice is and has been very important throughout this negotiation process. This means not only our colleagues, the Liberal members of Parliament and other members from Quebec in the House, but also the businesses and stakeholders who represent and work in Quebec. They were at the table throughout this process.
We have always declared our intentions as we embarked on negotiations for a free trade agreement. This agreement we reached with the NDP formalized a way for us to table it in the House of Commons, but we have always declared our interests. I want to remind my colleague that Canadian and Quebec interests were preserved in this negotiation, whether related to supply management, automotive, aerospace or agriculture. I know many Quebec producers, farmers, manufacturers and workers are relieved that we are about to ratify this bill.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the member is on our international trade committee and I appreciate his support and participation.
Looking at the cultural exemption in particular, that is something very important to all of us and certainly to the government. It means that with this agreement we will be protecting a $53.8-billion industry, thousands of jobs across Canada, 75,000 of which are in the Quebec region.
I would like to hear my colleague's comments on whether he thinks that is a worthwhile part to have in this agreement.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
Madam Speaker, I talked about the cultural exemption in my speech. We are pleased that it is being reaffirmed. I would remind hon. members that Quebec fought hard for this UNESCO recognition. There are some things that cannot be treated entirely as commodities. Our culture is undeniably very rich and recognized around the world. That being said, we do not have anything that resembles Hollywood. That is why we need to have practices and guidelines in place to regulate and protect our culture and offer it preferential treatment. The cultural exemption is an excellent way to do that. It is not the only way, but it is essential.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-03-10 11:30 [p.1856]
Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for his well-researched speech. It stands in contrast to some of the speeches we hear in the House, when members spend their time thanking their families and colleagues. I think his speech was strong and contributed to the debate. For those reasons, I salute him.
As my colleague noted, we have made what we can consider to be a gain on aluminum. At the very least, we have been able to reduce the harmful impact that the agreement might have had on Quebec aluminum.
My colleague mentioned softwood lumber in his speech. I appreciated hearing him mention that the United States is behaving in an underhanded way by dragging certain Canadian lumber producers through the courts until they run out of steam. I also liked his comments on supply management.
He ended on a strong note by telling us that the solution may be independence for Quebec. However, in the meantime, the Bloc Québécois may have a solution to propose. If the Quebec delegation were given a larger role, through some sort of mechanism, would that not result in better agreements? I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
Madam Speaker, honestly, that would be great, and we are working hard to make that happen. That is of course an area we will be investing energy in. The problem is that we could invest our energy in so many other things if we were truly free to make our own decisions. We would not get bogged down in convoluted squabbles with the rest of the country, whose interests are sometimes diametrically opposed to ours.
I fully understand why the rest of Canada might not care about aluminum, because aluminum is a Quebec industry. I fully understand why the rest of Canada would make concessions and not do anything for aluminum because it would rather put its eggs in another basket. There is no doubt in my mind that becoming good neighbours would be in our mutual interest.
View Denis Trudel Profile
View Denis Trudel Profile
2020-03-10 14:54 [p.1889]
Mr. Speaker, I have a very serious question. We recently learned that $4.3 billion was spent under the national housing strategy. How much of that $4.3 billion was invested in Quebec? Zero, not one penny, zilch, nada, nothing.
There is still another $1.4 billion available, but that money is languishing in federal coffers while Quebec is going through its worst housing crisis in 15 years.
Will the government finally unconditionally transfer to Quebec the money it is owed, which is languishing in federal coffers?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
2020-03-10 14:55 [p.1889]
Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure that Quebeckers get their fair share of our historic investment in housing. We hope to reach a bilateral agreement with the Government of Quebec, as we did with the other provinces and territories.
View Denis Trudel Profile
View Denis Trudel Profile
2020-03-10 14:55 [p.1889]
Mr. Speaker, when someone cannot put a roof over their head, they wind up in the street, and this in a country with a government that goes on and on about how it has lifted thousands of people out of poverty. The government's current actions are forcing thousands of Quebeckers to either stay in or return to poverty. It spent $4.3 billion in Canada and not one cent went to Quebec, because Ottawa wants to impose conditions.
When will it transfer the $1.4 billion we need, which we paid for through our taxes?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
2020-03-10 14:56 [p.1889]
Mr. Speaker, we know that it will be impossible for us to achieve our ambitious housing objectives without collaborating with our provincial and territorial partners, including Quebec. We will continue to work with all levels of government to serve Canadians and ensure that every Canadian has safe and affordable housing.
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Madam Speaker, it has now been several weeks since Bill C-4, an act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, was introduced.
It is becoming increasingly clear that this agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico has some serious consequences for Canada's and Quebec's economies. It is simple. Under this agreement, our exports to the United States will decrease and our imports from our neighbours to the south will increase. As a result, the United States will diminish Canada's industrial activity, shifting this activity to its own cities and towns. The C.D. Howe Institute's most recent study estimates that Canada's GDP will take a $14-billion hit. That is worrisome.
Agriculture in Canada, and especially in Quebec, will be one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. It will lose a significant portion of its market share to the United States. This is not to mention all the other trade benefits and legal advantages in terms of copyright, intellectual property, trademarks and data protection that the United States gained over Canada in these negotiations.
I even heard Canada's chief CUSMA negotiator say that the Government of Canada negotiated with the United States without analyzing the consequences of its decisions. Negotiating that kind of free trade agreement usually takes three years. Canadians should have been invited to submit studies that should have been debated to gain a better understanding of the long-term benefits for our economy. In this case, the United States forced negotiations and Canada was left scrambling.
The Government of Canada also rushed the study of Bill C-4. After finalizing the agreement last year, the Liberal government, which had a majority at the time, rejected the House of Commons' requests to examine the ins and outs of a future CUSMA implementation bill. That was last May. Then a general election was held on October 21. The House could have convened sooner, but that is not what happened. We finally opened the parliamentary session in December, but we did not discuss the agreement. We could have discussed it back in January, but that did not happen either. We could even have scheduled time for it in March during break last week, but it was all done in a rush in committee.
Fortunately, now that we have a minority government, the tone has changed, which has translated into some gains for Quebec. The Liberal government's haste was concealing some things. The Bloc Québécois insisted and managed to make the government aware of the consequences that its decisions and actions have on Quebec.
Fortunately, the Bloc Québécois was able to intelligently intervene to make this agreement a little more favourable for Quebec. If the Bloc Québécois had not done so, the Liberal government would have hurt Quebec's aluminum industry, even though it is the cleanest in the world. Indeed, CUSMA would have driven away more than $6 billion in investments in Quebec's aluminum industry. The Bloc Québécois salvaged something from the wreckage. The negotiations with the Liberal Party on Bill C-4 proved once again the importance of the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa.
On the other hand, it is unfortunate that CUSMA does nothing to address the softwood lumber crisis. Once again, it lets the United States dictate the market.
I now want to come back to the impact the agreement will have on rural life. In Quebec, over two million people live in rural areas. Eighteen per cent of Quebeckers live in a village like Saint-André-de-Kamouraska or in a small urban community like Macamic in the west of Abitibi. Over 40% of the revenue in Quebec's agricultural regions comes from the dairy industry. The weakening of supply management directly undermines the economic and social development of Quebec's rural regions.
Last weekend, I attended the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec convention in my home town of Rouyn-Noranda. I spoke with many next generation farmers who are very concerned about the impact of the changes to supply management because a stable, predictable income is important.
In CUSMA, as in previous agreements, Canada failed Quebec's dairy farmers. I would like to remind members that most of Canada's dairy farms are in Quebec. CUSMA gives up more than 3% of our dairy market, which amounts to an annual loss of $150 million in revenue for the two million people who live in the rural regions. Our agricultural community, which is at the very heart of our villages' vitality, continues to grow weaker every year.
I therefore expect the government to think about our towns and villages in the various compensation programs. That is why the Bloc Québécois, dairy producers and farmers in general are asking for a direct support program to compensate for losses, starting with the next budget—and that means very soon—to ensure that the economic vitality of our rural regions is not undermined.
Canada seems to have no regard for the reality that farm life and supply management create jobs and investments that contribute to the existence of a strong middle class in Quebec's rural areas.
Fortunately, a few days ago, the Bloc Québécois introduced a bill to protect supply management in Quebec in future trade negotiations.
Under this bill, the federal government will not be able to make an international trade commitment through a treaty or an agreement that would have the unfortunate effect of undermining supply management in Quebec. Our farmers and producers will finally have the protection they deserve to deal with the politics of free trade in the world. Circumventing supply management needs to stop. This bill is essential. I invite all my colleagues in the House of Commons to support it because, in addition to being an easy target in negotiations, supply management can also be circumvented with the right strategies. It is no secret that the United States has been using milk protein as a way of getting around supply management for years. It used to be a way for them to offload their surpluses onto Canadian markets at a lesser price than what our producers were asking. Now, they use it as a weapon to destroy supply management.
With the last agreement, the Canadian milk solids industry has literally been put under third-party management by the United States. Washington can limit the amount of protein our producers are entitled to sell in the rest of the world. The Americans will be able to squeeze Quebec out of global markets. That is a direct attack on our sovereignty. In other words, our producers could end up with huge surpluses and the surpluses could disrupt and jeopardize our family farm model.
Even worse, CUSMA also requires that we consult the United States about changes to the administration of the supply management system for Canada's dairy products. To force a Canadian industry to consult its direct competitor in another country about administrative changes it could make in future on the national level challenges our sovereignty.
For that reason the Bloc Québécois is recommending that Bill C-4 be accompanied by the following measures: that supply-managed producers and processors be fully compensated for their losses resulting from the trans-Pacific agreement, CETA and CUSMA and that this be clearly indicated in the next budget; that import licences resulting from breaches in supply management be issued first to processors rather than distributors and retailers; that, before ratifying CUSMA, the government consider the fact that if the agreement comes into force before August 1, 2020, milk protein export quotas for 2020-21 will be 35,000 tonnes rather than 55,000 tonnes if the agreement comes into force after August 1; that the government establish a permanent forum with producers and processors to ensure that the export tariff quotas are implemented in such a way as to cause the least possible harm to the dairy sector.
I was talking about the importance of income stability, which will have huge implications for the next generation of farmers in particular. Access to land, all of the bank loans and other programs are made possible through guarantees. The quota system and supply management were the main guarantees that farmers could offer. The implications are still being downplayed and they affect the cities, towns and regions of Quebec especially. All of Canada's concessions to our trade partners in recent agreements will have a direct impact on Quebec's rural economy. The latest trade agreements negotiated and signed by Ottawa have done nothing but create uncertainty in Quebec's towns and regions, in particular among farm owners, who are generally the ones who stimulate economic growth in their communities.
The principles of CUSMA will clearly have huge implications on investments in farms and processors, not to mention the job losses in cities and towns. The impact on agricultural producers goes beyond dairy farmers. We are talking about other farmers, veterinarians, equipment manufacturers, equipment vendors, truck drivers and feed suppliers. These financial losses will be felt by the various SMEs that remain in these towns. What is worse, the towns' social development will be affected. Services could be lost, schools could be shut down, and so on.
I invite all my colleagues in the House to visit the riding of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, particularly east of Témiscamingue, to understand the impact of a school closure or even the closure of a single retail store. In order to reduce the impact of all these losses, especially on rural Quebec, would it be possible for Ottawa to finally accede to Quebec's request that Quebeckers be put in charge of regional development programs? In the wake of the disastrous outcomes for rural Quebec, federal programs should be tailored to rural Quebec instead of being Canada-wide programs designed by Ottawa. If Ottawa is not in a position to protect and develop rural Quebec, if Ottawa does not care about Quebec's regions, then it should let Quebec manage the programs in a way that is more effective and beneficial for Quebec.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-03-10 16:50 [p.1906]
Madam Speaker, I have to disagree. We have a minister for regional development in Quebec, separate from the rest of the country, who is doing an excellent job, and all sorts of projects are being approved.
The member mentioned the quota on milk protein, and that is true, but the quota is far above what we are producing now, so it is not going to have any immediate effect.
The member also talked about losses of investment in aluminum. Those decisions were made before the CUSMA final agreement was made.
As well, he mentioned a study, but there have been tons of studies that show the effects on benefits if we did not have this agreement. For instance, the RBC said there would be a dramatic reduction in the Canadian GDP of 1%, affecting 500,000 workers, and Scotiabank said that the Canadian economy would stand a strong chance of falling into recession without this agreement.
There are $57 billion worth of exports from manufacturers in Quebec, great businesses, which the agreement protects, and the cultural exemption would protect 75,000 Quebec workers.
Does the member agree those are benefits?
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-27 13:26 [p.1676]
Madam Speaker, it is with great humility that I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to medical assistance in dying.
Many MPs have very personal stories about the end of life of one of their loved ones. As the Bloc Québécois critic for seniors, it goes without saying that I have heard my share. Therefore, in my speech, I will recall the work done by the Bloc on this issue, the sensitivity that exists in Quebec regarding medical assistance in dying and, finally, the position of certain groups of seniors and women who have come to meet with me.
First, let me go over the context again. In September 2019, the Quebec Superior Court ruled in favour of Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, both suffering from a serious degenerative disease, stating that one of the eligibility criteria for medical assistance in dying is too restrictive. This criterion, that of “reasonably foreseeable natural death”, is found in the federal government's Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts with regard to medical assistance in dying, and the provincial government's Act respecting end-of-life care.
Justice Christine Baudouin said it well in her ruling when she wrote: “The Court has no hesitation in concluding that the reasonably foreseeable natural death requirement infringes Mr. Truchon and Ms. Gladu’s rights to liberty and security, protected by section 7 of the Charter.” Those two individuals had argued that they were being denied medical assistance in dying because their deaths were not imminent.
Let me now remind the House of the Bloc Québécois's position and highlight the outstanding work of the member for Montcalm, to whom I offer my deepest sympathies. I want to thank him for the work he has done on this file because, as he quite rightly pointed out, legislators did not do their job properly with Bill C-14. As a result, issues of a social and political nature are being brought before the courts. We need to make sure that people who have serious, irreversible illnesses are not forced to go to court to access MAID. That would be terrible, and yet that is what will happen if we cannot figure out a way to cover degenerative cognitive diseases.
However, we believe that it is important to be very cautious before making any decisions on questions related to mental health. That is why we are relieved that the bill does not address eligibility for MAID for individuals suffering solely from a mental illness. Indeed, this issue requires further reflection, study and consultation, which will be completed at the Standing Committee on Health as soon as the motion moved by my colleague from Montcalm is adopted.
For the second part of my speech, I would like to talk about Quebec's sentiments on this whole issue. Quebec was the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation on medical assistance in dying. Wanda Morris, a representative of a B.C. group that advocates for the right to die with dignity, pointed out that the committee studying the issue had the unanimous support of all the parties in the National Assembly. This should be a model for the rest of Canada.
Ms. Morris said she felt confident after seeing how it would work in Quebec and seeing that people were pleased to have the option of dying with dignity. The Quebec legislation, which was spearheaded by Véronique Hivon, was the result of years of research and consultation with physicians, patients and the public. It has been reported that 79% of Quebeckers support medical assistance in dying, compared to 68% in the rest of Canada.
In 2015, when the political parties in the National Assembly unanimously applauded the Supreme Court ruling on MAID, Véronique Hivon stated:
Today is truly a great day for people who are ill, for people who are at the end of their lives, for Quebec and for all Quebeckers who participated in...this profoundly democratic debate that the National Assembly had the courage to initiate in 2009....I believe that, collectively, Quebec has really paved the way, and we have done so in the best possible way, in a non-partisan, totally democratic way.
For the third part of my speech, I would like to tell you about a meeting I had with the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, or AFEAS, in my role as critic for seniors and status of women. During the meeting, the AFEAS shared with me its concerns with MAID. I will quote the AFEAS 2018-19 issue guide:
Is medical assistance in dying a quality of life issue? For those individuals who can no longer endure life and who meet the many criteria for obtaining this assistance, the opportunity to express their last wishes is undoubtedly welcome. This glimmer of autonomy can be reassuring and make it possible to face death more calmly....As the process for obtaining medical assistance in dying is very restrictive, those who use it probably do so for a very simple reason: they have lost all hope....This process cannot be accessed by individuals who are not at the end of life....People with degenerative diseases, who are suffering physically and mentally, do not have access to medical assistance in dying.
Many people are not eligible for MAID because of the federal law governing the practice, which was imposed by a court ruling in February 2015. Four years after Carter, individuals whose quality of life is severely compromised by degenerative diseases are still being forced to ask the courts for permission to end their suffering.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court even struck down two sections of the Criminal Code prohibiting Canadian doctors from administering MAID. In Carter, the highest court in the land stated that a competent adult who clearly consents to the termination of life is eligible for MAID if that person “has a grievous and irremediable medical condition...that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”
According to the AFEAS, the Supreme Court's criteria were very broad. In drafting the MAID eligibility criteria, the Government of Canada included the concept of reasonably foreseeable natural death only for people at the end of life, which excludes a significant number of people who are experiencing intolerable physical and mental suffering.
The entire process is based on the intensity of the suffering as assessed by a doctor and a panel of experts. The sick person's own assessment is not always taken into account. There are no compassionate criteria among the requirements for obtaining MAID. A person may be at the end of their life and be unable to make the request themselves because they cannot communicate. The law applies only to people who are able to give their free and informed consent up until the very end, which could be terribly traumatic and even cruel to those who have been suffering for years.
With regard to advance consent, the AFEAS spoke about the case of Audrey Parker, a woman from Halifax who died with medical assistance on November 1, 2018. She made a video three days before her death. In that three-minute video, she said that she would like nothing more than to make it to Christmas, but that if she became incompetent along the way, she would lose out on her choice of a beautiful, peaceful and, best of all, pain-free death.
The Barreau du Québec believes that the law should be amended to comply with the criteria set out in Carter and thus prevent court challenges from being filed by people who should not have to carry such a burden.
A panel of experts has studied this issue and recommends, under certain conditions, ending the suffering of patients who have previously expressed their wish to receive medical assistance in dying, but who subsequently become incapable of expressing their consent, in particular people with various forms of dementia or cognitive loss such as Alzheimer's disease. This is why AFEAS is asking, with respect to human rights, that the process of medical assistance in dying be based more on the rights of individuals and on respect for their wishes.
With respect to reasonably foreseeable natural death, it requested that the reference to “reasonably foreseeable natural death” be removed from the eligibility criteria. With respect to advance consent, it asked that the person's informed consent be respected and that it be given in advance. Also on the subject of advance consent, it asked that the consent anticipated, stated and recorded by the person be recognized.
In conclusion, today's debate demonstrates the need to act so that people suffering from degenerative and incurable diseases are no longer forced to go before the courts to challenge the terms and conditions surrounding eligibility for medical assistance in dying, and so that we can ensure the best possible continuum of care.
Let's take action so that everyone can die with dignity.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2020-02-27 13:39 [p.1678]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite. I want to ask a question regarding a point raised once again by the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, who talked about patients being pressured and the possibility of doctors influencing people. The evidence that we examined during our consultations does not support that position.
I wonder if the member has any information on how the medical profession operates in Quebec. For our part, we found that doctors always show great professionalism, vigilance and circumspection when broaching the subject with patients.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-27 13:40 [p.1678]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Personally, I have heard more about doctors showing a great deal of compassion for their patients and wanting them to be able to end their lives with dignity than the reverse. Personally, I have not heard of many, or really any, cases of undue pressure. Doctors take the Hippocratic oath, which provides patients with a great deal of protection.
However, just because I have not heard about something does not mean it does not exist. If it ever does happen, it must be reported. That could be discussed in committee. I think we need to let doctors do their job, which is about compassion more than anything else.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-223, an act to amend the Citizenship Act with respect to adequate knowledge of French in Quebec.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my first bill in the House of Commons, a bill seconded by the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.
This bill amends the Citizenship Act to require that permanent residents who ordinarily reside in Quebec must have an adequate knowledge of French in order to obtain citizenship.
In Gilles Vigneault's masterfully chosen words, “The Francophonie is a vast, unbounded land, the realm of the French language. It exists within us. It is the invisible, spiritual, mental and emotional homeland within each one of you.”
I thank the House for its support.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2020-02-25 10:24 [p.1473]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-226, an act to amend the Canadian Multiculturalism Act with regard to non-application in Quebec.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a bill to amend the Canadian Multiculturalism Act to provide that it does not apply in Quebec. Canadian multiculturalism is a political ideology imposed on Quebec. All it has done is juxtapose a multitude of cultural solitudes and ghettoize difference.
The Quebec nation wants to design its own integration model. We are open to diversity and we want to create a harmonious coexistence based on shared values, especially when it comes to protection of the French language, separation of church and state and gender equality.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-02-25 10:46 [p.1477]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby.
Historically, the fathers of Canadian Confederation decided that health should be the responsibility of the provinces and Quebec. The government has since revealed a very obvious thirst for centralization. Last year, the federal government intruded further and further into areas of provincial authority by exploiting its spending authority. What is being proposed here is a blatant intrusion into Quebec's jurisdiction. The Quebec government has always been against this idea, so much so that it called for the right to opt out with compensation. That element is missing from my colleague's motion.
My question is very simple. Given that this falls under Quebec's jurisdiction, that you are spending money that should be made available to Quebeckers through the federal health transfers, and that you are spending that money according to your own inclinations, how do you think Quebeckers are going to take this?
View Peter Julian Profile
Madam Speaker, that is why I mentioned the University of Montreal. I urge my colleague to go and see for himself the long line of Quebeckers waiting to be seen at the University of Montreal and at Quebec's free dental clinics.
We know that there are people in Quebec who do not have access to dental care. We know that the federal government should provide full funding. We know that the provinces and Quebec can decide how to manage these funds. Nevertheless, there is a dire need across Quebec and Canada. That is why it is so important to vote for this motion today, so the people who are desperately waiting today outside the University of Montreal and the free dental clinics can believe in the future and know that their quality of life will improve.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2020-02-25 11:00 [p.1479]
Madam Speaker, much has been said about the NDP's Sherbrooke declaration, which calls for respect for Quebec's jurisdictions, an asymmetrical model and an automatic right to compensation. We do not oppose the essence of the proposal, but the first chance it gets, the NDP is proposing an intrusion into Quebec's jurisdiction. There is another way. What we are calling for, and what the provinces want, is for the federal government to restore health transfers. The provinces want 5.2%, and we want 6%. That would give the Government of Quebec and the provincial governments the flexibility to manage their health care programs. Otherwise, these kinds of proposals will disrupt health care management.
What are my colleague's thoughts on that?
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-02-25 11:01 [p.1479]
Madam Speaker, we are suggesting a change to the Liberal proposal, which really benefits the wealthy. Giving Quebec the right to opt out with full compensation is part of our values. The measure we are proposing would use that money to help families who need it the most.
Quebec could have access to the federal program if it wants. If it wants full compensation, that is also Quebec's prerogative. We are proposing something for the common good. We will always advocate for working together to build a more just society. We know we can achieve better results by working together. That is exactly what we are proposing, while still respecting Quebec's jurisdictions. Health is always a provincial responsibility. This is a matter of funding. We want to fund a program to help people who need dental care. That is exactly what we are talking about.
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-02-25 12:00 [p.1487]
Madam Speaker, I would like to share my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
The Bloc Québécois is a social democratic party. We feel strongly about redistributing wealth and ensuring equal opportunities for all. We fully support the principle of progressive taxation, and we believe it should be implemented to a greater degree. The idea is that the wealthiest contribute more to funding public services, which are universal and used by everyone.
On that note, it troubles us that the big Canadian banks are not taxed heavily enough. It is not like these companies could relocate to another country. They are in a protected market. Furthermore, I cannot overlook the fact that these multinational corporations and banks still have legal access to tax havens, which means they do not contribute as much to the public purse as they should. The rest of the population suffers, because they receive lower-quality services while paying more taxes and fees.
As everyone knows, we think quality health care is important. We believe that a person who falls ill has basic needs and is entitled to comprehensive care. Unfortunately, the current lack of funding means that many people do not have access to the care they need. That goes for prescription drugs and dental care too. In this day and age, it makes no sense that a person with dental problems would not be able to get the care they need and see a dentist. Dental problems can be very painful.
Today's motion is problematic. Dental care is an aspect of health care, and health care is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces and Quebec. Ottawa's role with respect to public services and health is to provide as much funding as possible, but Ottawa has not been doing that for quite some time. This problem goes all the way back to 1996, which, as it happens, was after the Quebec referendum.
Ottawa decided to deal with its debt problem by slashing transfers for health, social services and education, even though expenses are rising faster in those areas than anywhere else, as we can see from budgets tabled by Quebec and the provinces. Health and education costs go up year after year, but Ottawa is providing less and less money to cover those costs.
Originally, Ottawa promised to cover half of our health care spending. Ottawa was supposed to match every dollar spent by Quebec. This equality was completely wiped out at the end of the 1990s and the federal government has been retreating year after year ever since no matter who is in power in the House. Even though the total amount increases every year, the percentage of the federal government's contribution keeps decreasing. Quebec is now asking that Ottawa fund at least a quarter of health care spending. We are well below that and the percentage keeps going down every year.
In the last Parliament, the Liberal government pompously announced a plan to reinvest in health care. At the end of the day, it just cancelled the Conservatives' cuts and added a few crumbs, all while interfering in this jurisdiction. At the time, Quebec's health minister, Dr. Gaétan Barrette, even accused the Liberal government in Ottawa of engaging in predatory federalism. Coming from a Quebec Liberal minister, that is saying something.
There is a consensus on this in Quebec City. Every year, the Government of Quebec asks Ottawa to make an annual reinvestment of 6% to make up for lost ground and get the federal government's share to a quarter of health care spending. There is also a consensus among provincial governments who are all calling for an annual increase of 5.2% in federal spending on health. Between Quebec and the provinces, everyone agrees that it is important for the federal government to make up for lost ground.
On that, we have to take into account the aging population, since seniors require more health care, which is more expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, young people get more money for education, which only makes sense.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has made several updates to his “Fiscal Sustainability Report 2018”. He noted that Ottawa is the one with the fiscal flexibility, and that the provinces have no more wiggle room. This is true to such an extent that, even if the government chose to incur massive debt and run up the debt, it would have the means of maintaining the net debt at its current level. Based on future projections, the Parliamentary Budget Officer expects that Ottawa will have completely reimbursed its debt, while the provinces will still be drowning in massive debts because funding needs in health and education are increasing, but Ottawa is contributing less and less. That is a big problem.
The motion we are debating here infringes on provincial jurisdiction. We are not opposed to the idea of funding dental care, but we believe that that decision is up to Quebec, which does not have the money to fund all general health care services. When it comes to pharmacare, Quebec has a system that works, even though it is far from perfect. Obviously, a dental program is also necessary, but we should not be discussing it here. Our role here is to decide to increase health care funding so that the provinces can move forward with their plans.
I would like to read out a brief passage on this subject. I will then ask the members a question.
This asymmetry vis-à-vis du Québec can be applied in real terms through opting out with compensation. The right to opt out applies where the federal government, on its own or with the agreement of the provinces, intervenes in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction (in particular health and social services, education, family policy, housing, municipal infrastructure, etc.). In such case, no conditions or standards should be applied to Québec without its consent, obtained after consultation and negotiation. The principle of opting out is very important, as it makes it possible to reconcile the exercise of federal spending power for provinces that want it with respect for Québec's constitutional jurisdiction.
As members may have guessed, I was reading a passage from the Sherbrooke declaration adopted in 2005 by the Quebec wing of the New Democratic Party of Canada. It is odd that after adopting those principles, the NDP is now moving a motion in Parliament that encroaches directly on provincial jurisdiction and does not mention that Quebec should automatically be allowed to opt out with full compensation if the federal government implements this measure.
Sadly, our party is no stranger to this treatment. If former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe were here today, he could remind us how many times motions like these, ones that encroached on areas of provincial jurisdiction, have been moved.
In closing, the Bloc Québécois is a social democratic party. We believe in quality public services, but the role of the House is to provide health funding. It is up to Quebec to decide how to invest that money, whether in emergency care, dental care or pharmacare. It is not up to the House to encroach on areas of provincial jurisdiction. That is why we will be voting against today's motion.
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