Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 15 of 35456
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:02 [p.2284]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her remarks, in which she indicated that it is important to give the agricultural and agri-food community what it needs. Let's give that community what it is asking for.
In fact, I would like to make a plea to the minister. Again this week, in committee, we were told that the existing programs do not meet the needs. Of course, today's bill is very positive, and we are going to support it.
When will the new announcements be made regarding new investments, particularly with regard to the AgriAssurance program?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:09 [p.2285]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on what my colleague from Beauce was saying earlier. He talked about the dairy industry and compensation. The minister frequently reminds us that the government has started to pay out compensation, a move hailed by all members. However, many supply-managed sectors have yet to receive compensation. The announcements have not been made yet, but these sectors are calling for modernization programs, among other things.
Given that we are in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, would the minister not agree that now is a great time to inject funds into agricultural businesses in urgent need of cash? It would not count as new spending because the money has already been promised, on top of any other assistance that could be provided.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:22 [p.2287]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his great speech. I agree with him on many points.
I would like to hear his thoughts on the support being offered to the agricultural industry across Canada, compared to what is being done globally, including in the United States, for example.
What does he think will happen to our food security over the medium and long term if more is not done?
The agricultural sector is calling for urgent, essential measures.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:33 [p.2289]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beauce for his remarkable intervention. He hit the nail on the head. We are rarely on the same wavelength, but there is little we disagree on these days.
I would like him to quickly talk about how the current programs, which the minister keeps reminding everyone to use, do not work. What are some of the criticisms of these programs?
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:38 [p.2289]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from La Prairie.
If we claim that agriculture and agri-food are essential services, then we have to put our money where our mouth is. We know that agriculture is an important pillar of our economy. In fact, $68 billion in annual revenues come from farms. Every year we lose 5% to 7% of our farms. As my colleague said earlier, it is predicted that this year we might lose 15%. The losses are huge. Millions of litres of milk were dumped, and millions of eggs and chicks were destroyed. The poultry sector has posted losses of $115 million. These figures represent the losses to date.
Right now, there is a backlog of approximately 100,000 slaughter-ready pigs. Day by day, as my colleague said, euthanasia is being put on hold, but it is going to happen eventually. The pigs are growing too fast and cannot be kept in their facilities. This is a highly complex issue.
As for beef, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association is projecting nationwide losses of $500 billion. The beef sector also has a backlog of 100,000 cattle. Grain farmers are facing a loss of $86 million. The government recently announced an investment of $77.5 million to help slaughterhouses upgrade their facilities. However, the food processing industry says those upgrades would cost $860 million. The funding is nowhere near enough.
Slaughterhouses are operating below capacity and sometimes close for days at a time. The restaurant market has collapsed. We need to be aware of these things. Many small eateries will not survive the crisis. Demand will stay low. The agriculture sector is urging us to take action and improve the ongoing programs while taking into account the unfortunate fact that the crisis is going to last longer than a year. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. All this uncertainty is putting us under tremendous pressure and threatening our food self-sufficiency, our food security and our national security. It is that bad.
There are also labour problems. We need to talk about foreign workers and seasonal workers. From the numbers we were given, about 85% or 86% of workers have arrived. However, many of those seasonal workers were already here. The more time passes, the harder things will be. There will be a labour shortage of more than 15%. This is not a criticism of immigration officials. On the contrary, I think they are doing a good job. However, we need to be aware of the problems and help our agricultural sector.
In his announcement, the Prime Minister said that it was an initial investment and that if more needed to be done, he would do it. Today I want to let him know that, yes, more is needed, and I hope I am not the last person to say so.
Of course we are here to talk about Bill C-16. Our party has been recommending this solution for several weeks. It has taken a long time, but we are very pleased to see it today. Clearly, we support the bill. It will make it possible for the Canadian Dairy Commission to store additional amounts of products that have a longer shelf life to absorb market fluctuations. This may result in less dumping of milk. Unfortunately, it is a little late, since a lot of milk has already been dumped, but things will be better in the future.
We have a positive attitude and are looking to the future. We are pleased to support the bill, but more must be done. I will compare our situation to what is happening in the United States. In Canada, several measures totalling $252 million have been announced for the agricultural sector; in the United States, producers have received $19 billion in aid. Of course, we do not have the same population. This represents 12 times the amount of assistance. According to OECD estimates, every year, year after year, the U.S. provides twice as much support for its agricultural sector than Canada.
Farmers are strong, proud and good people who get up in the morning to work so that they can feed our people. At some point they also have to grapple with international issues, and they are facing competition. In a hockey game, the players need to be on equal footing. If my stick is too short, I will not be able to win the game. We need to give our farmers the tools and support they need, and what is going on now is outrageous.
I will calm down a bit, but it is unacceptable. Of the $252 million in assistance, $125 million is not new money. The government can have fun with creative bookkeeping, twist definitions and call it unused money, but at the end of the day, this $125 million is not new money. The government can make announcements, but it should not be presenting this money as new money, when that is untrue. That is misleading.
We are talking about the $50 million that Canada is allocating to buy back food surpluses, but the United States allocated $3 billion for that same purpose just this week. I do not know what it will be later, but the situation is totally surreal.
The government keeps saying that it is working hard to find solutions. I have a simple solution to propose to the government. Once again, I am reaching out and offering my help. I think that the other parties are interested in doing the same. We are here to work, but the government needs to listen to our constituents.
In her remarks earlier today, the minister said that we need to give people what they are asking for. To that, I say let's do it. We are ready. What are these people asking for? They are asking for a targeted emergency fund and quick action.
Small businesses are in trouble. The Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec said that it did not get any answers regarding practical measures to enable small agricultural businesses to be eligible for emergency loans. Sadly, these small businesses do not have a payroll of $20,000. They get paid differently, with dividends, but that does not count. Sadly, that does not fit into the right column on the form. I do not know whether that can be inputted in the much-talked-about calculator, but these businesses are not eligible.
Processors are sounding the alarm over cold storage. They need support because they are storing a lot more inventory than before. Must even more food go to waste?
The government says the AgriStability program works and is asking farmers to use the existing programs. Let's talk about that.
First off, telling farmers to use the AgriInvest program is like telling students that they are going to get help because there will not be any jobs this summer, but only if they empty their bank accounts first. The same is happening with farmers. These programs are investments in case of need. It is appropriate to treat farmers like any other group in society. This is about saving money. I am sure the government will get up and tell me that this is what emergency measures are for. Yes, but this is an exceptional situation.
Marcel Groleau, president of the Union des producteurs agricoles, appeared before the committee this week. He was wondering if decision-makers even understand these programs, and he explained how AgriStability works. The example he shared was of a typical farm that brings in $250,000 per year, spends $100,000 and nets $150,000. As it stands, the program requires the program year margin not to exceed 70% of the reference margin. This year, if such a farm were to lose $80,000, or more than 50% of its revenue, it would not collect a cent from the existing program. Clearly, this program is not working. Without that margin, the program would pay the farm $24,500 to compensate it for the $80,000 loss. Ever since before the crisis, the agricultural sector has been asking the government to change the rate to 85%, which would result in a $40,250 payment. That would be a program that works, just as it did before the 2013 cuts.
People are asking us to take action in a targeted way. I am going to set the rest of my notes aside because I am almost out of time and I want to appeal to parliamentarians to work together. Yes, we are all members of different political parties that each have separate objectives. However, with this COVID-19 pandemic, now is not the time to sound like a broken record or to toe the party line. It is time to work on behalf of farmers, who need us to take action.
If our response was appropriate, I do not think that, two days later, a large group of farmers would indicate publicly that it is no good. It takes a couple of days to read a document, conclude that it is no good, call one's friends and organize a meeting.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:49 [p.2291]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
As I said earlier, I am not here to criticize past actions by any government. I am here as part of a call to action.
Let's put ourselves in the shoes of a vegetable producer for example. He has to invest between $850,000 and $1 million to sow his field. It should be noted that agriculture has never been easy and nor will it be two years from now. There are external factors such as the weather and a surprise strike at CN last fall. On top of all that, this year farmers do not know if they will have enough workers at harvest time.
Producers are telling me they are going to plant soybeans and harvest it mechanically; that way, they will be okay for a year. They will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they will still be there next year. If they sow their fields with the current guarantees, they risk losing more than $1 million and going bankrupt. They will not do that because agricultural producers are entrepreneurs. Keep in mind that they have to assess the risk.
As a result, there will be a food shortage in the fall and products will be a lot more expensive. We will be dependent on foreign imports provided, of course, that foreign countries will want to send us their goods. Some recent examples might lead us to believe they will not. By the fall it will be too late. We have to act now.
View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2020-05-13 15:52 [p.2291]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and comments. I really appreciate it.
Before answering the question, I would like to share my personal interpretation of this notion of time. We are not just running out of time. We are most definitely out of time. It is now or never.
The member for Beauce asked what we should do. We all need to sit down together to figure out a solution. We need to know what kind of wiggle room the government has and how much it can invest. Then we need to see what stakeholders think of our solution. We need to do something, even if it means working weekends and around the clock, so we can announce a fund next week. That is where we are at. We need to adapt our programs.
A lot of money has been thrown at the problem so far. I am not criticizing; we agreed with that. We had to take action. The government injected over $252 billion. I do not for a second believe that there is no money for agriculture. What use is health care if people have nothing to eat?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 15:53 [p.2292]
Mr. Speaker, we are in the midst of a health crisis. Everyone knows that. A health crisis affects the health of the population. More demands are being put on the health care systems of the various regions of Canada. Unfortunately, Quebec is no exception. We know that the Quebec health care system has been sorely tried by the COVID-19 crisis. Seniors' residences in Quebec are a good example of the major difficulties being faced by the Quebec government and the Quebec health care system in particular.
What are the solutions?
We know that the government is trying to find solutions to the problems facing Quebec and Canada, but it is relying on an old habit. It is the old habit of thinking that big brother in Ottawa knows better than everyone else, that big brother in Ottawa will solve the problem for the provinces and Quebec and will tell everyone else to step aside, because big brother has the solution. The problem is that, based on the slapdash way it managed the border closure at the beginning of the pandemic and the way it managed the Phoenix pay system, I am a bit worried when I hear the government saying that it has all the answers and it knows what to do.
The NDP leader made it very clear today that he thinks the federal government just needs to meddle in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec. It just needs to shove the provinces aside. However, everyone in the National Assembly in Quebec's Parliament and everyone across Quebec agrees that Quebec's jurisdiction must be respected, more specifically with regard to health. I am not the one saying this. This comes from the National Assembly and the various political parties.
As a solution, the Liberals initially tried to take over the long-term care homes. However, they were promptly informed that it was none of their business. I think they got the message.
There are always roundabout ways of doing things. The federal government said earlier that the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec must be respected, yet the Minister of Health said it wants to provide money for mental health, home care and so on. It cannot do that. That is a roundabout way of doing something it is not allowed to do directly. It cannot offer money to sectors that are managed by the provinces and Quebec with strings attached.
What is the solution, then? I can say that the NDP's solution is completely off base. It is not surprising that the NDP, which had 59 MPs from Quebec in 2011 has just one left. The Liberals' solution is no better. The Conservatives have proven that they cannot maintain consistent measures over time and were not able to manage the health care systems in the provinces and Quebec.
The solution is set out in the British North America Act, that famous document that created Canada. The solution is right there in black and white. This document states that the provinces have jurisdiction over health, and this document is sacred to many. It is simple: Health care belongs to the provinces and Quebec.
The Constitution also covers how government services are funded. Since the Canadian provinces and Quebec start off with fewer financial means to manage their jurisdictions, the Constitution was written to include a system in which the federal government would transfer funds to the provinces and Quebec. They knew that the money was in Ottawa but the needs were in Quebec. The fiscal imbalance dates all the way back to 1867.
Let's look back in history. At the time, this was not a major issue because health was often managed by religious orders. However, it became a problem when the responsibility for health was transferred to the welfare state in 1960.
Quebec was going to manage the health care system and would obviously call on Ottawa to lend a hand by providing program funding and federal transfers. It was thought that Quebec and the federal government would fund the system fifty-fifty, but such was not the case.
What happened was that—
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 15:59 [p.2292]
As the House leader of the Bloc Québécois, I want to point out that we had agreements with the government and the other parties to meet physically once a week to talk about COVID-19 and problems arising from the pandemic.
We were told we would get 30 minutes every Wednesday to talk about anything we wanted in connection with COVID-19. The government stipulated that, whenever possible, it wanted to introduce bills for debate on those days. We agreed because it was easier for the government.
I would ask the indulgence of the House to simply say that every party is supposed to have 30 minutes to talk about all kinds of COVID-19-related things, but we are not getting that time today. I would ask the indulgence of the House to continue my remarks.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 16:02 [p.2293]
Mr. Speaker, I have a question.
In the second round of 20 minutes or 10 minutes that we will have later, will we also be required to talk about agriculture?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 16:02 [p.2293]
We had a very clear agreement that on Wednesdays when we met in person in the House, we would get 30 minutes to talk about COVID-19. Today, we agreed to waive our 30 minutes in exchange for 20 or 10 minutes to talk about other matters related to COVID-19, a crisis currently raging in Quebec.
Now you are telling me that what we negotiated, what we discussed with the government and its leader, is no longer valid. That is what you are telling me. The agreements we secured are not valid anymore. That is what I am hearing. That is what you just confirmed.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 16:04 [p.2293]
Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that I do not like talking about agriculture. I know a lot about it already.
If I understood correctly, all the remarks we will be making, from when the bill is tabled to the end, will have to be about agriculture. That is my understanding.
I asked the government to add 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for questions and answers to compensate for the 30 minutes we had to talk about the pandemic. Now you are telling me that what we discussed will not happen, that I did not understand what the government leader proposed. Is that what you are telling me?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 16:06 [p.2293]
What they did in 2015 is a bit embarrassing. Those whom we might describe as destroyers of the Quebec health care system are here and, from what I understand, they did not see fit to do better than what the others proposed.
I understand why the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent rose. He must have felt the heat and did not want to hear us talk and be taken to task. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. That is what I understand, Mr. Speaker.
My Conservative colleagues think it is funny to cut funding for health care and to put us in a situation where we cannot take care of people because we do not have any money from Ottawa because of them. It is because of them.
That is the reality, hon. member from Louis-Saint-Laurent—
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 16:10 [p.2293]
Mr. Speaker, when I was teaching at CEGEP and at the university, I would explain to my students that market globalization meant that some sectors were protect by governments because they were important sectors for a society like ours. I always gave the example of agriculture, since it is important to ensure that a country can feed its people itself so as not to be held hostage, as we saw recently with health equipment. If we do not want to be held hostage, we have to take care of our agricultural sector.
What happened when the Conservatives were in power? They were the first to sacrifice milk quotas on the altar of international trade. They were the first to sell Quebec milk quotas to open the borders to the benefit of western Canada. The Liberal Party followed suit.
The Conservatives criticize the government. They see the beam in their neighbour's eye. It is not a beam that they have in their own eyes, but a dozen two by fours.
The member for Beauce knows that they were the first party to make sure that milk quotas were jeopardized by international trade and trade deals. They were the first to roll over before other countries and fail to protect Quebec dairy producers. While the Conservatives are criticizing the government today, they are in an uncomfortable situation.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-05-13 16:10 [p.2294]
Mr. Speaker, French is the official language of Quebec. I will always speak French. If the member does not like that, it is not my problem. The member is upset because I am not speaking English, but in Quebec, the official language is French. That is why I will always address the House in French. I hope nobody here would question my right to do so. I do not need anyone giving me a hard time for speaking French.
Results: 1 - 15 of 35456 | Page: 1 of 2364

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|
Show both languages
Refine Your Search
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data