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Results: 1 - 15 of 26
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech.
At the beginning of his speech, he spoke a lot about the need for new housing. However, the housing announced in the budget will not be available for another two or three years, because housing cannot be built instantaneously. Still, there may be a way to help people find housing.
For example, in some regions, Airbnb has taken over 20, 25 or 30 housing units so that it can profit off of renting them out by the day or the week.
Would this not be a way to control these companies, to ensure that these units remain permanent rental units for residents?
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
moved that Bill C-237, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to speak to my bill, Bill C-237, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act.
The bill addresses the root cause of the tensions and disputes between the federal government and the provinces, Quebec in particular, and that is spending power. The federal government has given itself the power to tell Quebec what to do in its own areas of jurisdiction, under the pretext that it is transferring money to the province.
Canada is supposed to be a federation. In a federation, the two levels of government are equally sovereign, but not in the same areas.
Section 91 of the Constitution confers powers on the federal Parliament and section 92 confers powers on Quebec and the Canadian provinces. Federal spending that encroaches on provincial jurisdiction calls into question the division of powers and Quebec's autonomy. That is what spending power is. It is the power to tell the other what to do in areas that fall under its exclusive jurisdiction. Respecting Quebec and its autonomy is not a partisan game in Quebec, and this is not new.
It was during the creation of the welfare state, as it was known, when the government started developing various social programs, that tensions arose.
During the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, Quebeckers clearly picked a side. They looked to the Government of Quebec to develop the social safety net, and they expected Quebec to be completely free to do that without having to take orders from Ottawa. Quebec Premier Jean Lesage's campaign slogan was “Maîtres chez nous”, masters of our own house, and that is what he was talking about. That is also what the great constitutional talks—Victoria in 1970, Meech Lake in 1987 and Charlottetown in 1992—were all about. In fact, that is what prompted me to get into politics.
When English Canada got itself a new Constitution without Quebec, I decided to make the leap. When I ran in 1984, I ran because I wanted us to be masters of our own house. It is for that same reason that I am now introducing Bill C‑237 38 years later.
The bill amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act in two ways.
On the one hand, it provides all interested provinces with the opportunity to opt out of a federal program that falls under the legislative authority of the provinces. In that case, the government can pay the province a transfer equivalent to the contribution that it would have received had it not withdrawn.
On the other hand, Bill C-237 adds that the government will only pay the contribution if the province has a program whose objectives are comparable to those of a federal program. This mechanism is quite similar to the one that exists in the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, for example.
If a province has its own program and withdraws from the federal program, it receives the same transfer that it would have received had it not withdrawn. The transfer is unconditional and goes into the province's consolidated revenue fund, but only if it has a comparable program. It can be comparable, but it does not have to be the same. There is no requirement to respect standards or criteria or to allow interference in our affaires. We have a fair amount of control in this kind of relationship. That is not currently the case under this government or under previous governments.
Bill C-237 proposes a second amendment to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act that applies only to Quebec. This amendment would exempt Quebec from the application of criteria and conditions set out by Ottawa in the Canada Health Act.
The federal government has announced that it plans to set conditions applicable to long-term care facilities, or CHSLDs. It is talking about a series of so-called national strategies, which we understand to mean “dictated by the federal government”, in such areas as mental health, seniors' health, reproductive health, pharmacare and dental care.
The federal government does not develop any services and, in fact, it would not be able to do so. The federal government does not deliver any services either, as it knows nothing about them. It will just transfer the responsibility to the provinces so they will do the work in its place. It is going to hire them like subcontractors, and it is going to use its spending power to tell them what to do.
Fifty years ago, Pierre Elliott Trudeau said that “there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. Today, his son is saying that the state has its place in every room in the house, which is unacceptable to us. Our house is Quebec, and we do not want Canada deciding on the decor and furniture.
As I was saying, it is not a partisan issue in Quebec. I would like to quote Benoît Pelletier, Quebec's minister of intergovernmental affairs in Jean Charest's government, the same Jean Charest who is a Liberal in Quebec and a Conservative in Ottawa. It would be difficult to be any more transparent.
Benoît Pelletier said, “I have a great deal of difficulty in reconciling the values underlying the Canadian federation with the idea of a federal spending power that is in no way subject to the division of powers.”
The Séguin commission on the fiscal imbalance said the same thing: “The 'federal spending power' displays a singular logic in that the federal government intervenes every time in a field falling under provincial jurisdiction without having to adopt a constitutional amendment.”
The current government of François Legault, which was elected on an autonomist platform, is still calling for jurisdictions to be respected. Between autonomist François Legault and Jean Lesage's “masters in our own house”, it is very clear that Quebec does not want the federal government to tell us what to do in areas over which we have exclusive jurisdiction.
This is not a constitutional matter. It is, quite simply, a jurisdictional matter. The federal government does not manage the health care system and knows nothing about it.
In March, the Bloc leader held a press conference to demand that the federal budget include an increase in health transfers, with no conditions attached. He was accompanied by the entire Quebec health care community: unions, physicians' federations, various health care professionals, everyone. These people, the backbone of the health care system, are all asking for the same thing, and that is a boost in transfers, with no conditions.
These people make the health care system function, together with the Quebec government. The last thing they need is the federal government coming in and telling them what to do. This consensus goes far beyond the political parties in Quebec; it includes the entire health care community. I would like to reiterate that all the provincial premiers are unanimously asking for the same thing. That consensus is reflected in Bill C-237.
A few weeks ago, the Speaker ruled that my bill requires a royal recommendation. In other words, the House can vote on it at third reading only if the government agrees. We still have second reading, committee and report stage, which gives us several months to convince this government, which, I remind members, is a minority government.
Of course, the Bloc Québécois wants Quebec to be a country, but in the meantime, we want to be masters in our own house to the extent possible.
The Conservative Party campaigned on a platform of respect for provincial jurisdiction. The NDP had its Sherbrooke declaration, which supported Quebec's right to opt out. Together, the three of us can move Bill C‑237 forward. Today, I am calling on these three parties to do just that.
My people built a unique society on our part of the continent. Our distinct nature is evident in our language and our culture, but it is much more than that. Quebec has the highest rate of female labour market participation, the most advanced family policy on the continent, the best wealth distribution and the lowest poverty rates. Almost 80% of the population belongs to the middle class, compared to under 75% in the rest of Canada. How did we make that happen? We did it because we were free to do it. That is all there is to it.
The federal government wants to use its spending power to replace our freedom with conditional freedom. It cannot recognize the existence of a nation while simultaneously wanting to control it. Everyone here rejects that brand of paternalism toward indigenous nations, whose right to self-government we recognize. I expect the same level of respect for my nation, the Quebec nation.
That is why I urge all members to support my Bill C‑237 so we can have a little more mastery over our own house.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, my answer is very simple. It is well established in the Canadian Constitution that education and health are areas of provincial jurisdiction. Manitoba has full authority in education and health, as does Quebec. The federal government needs to stop meddling in these areas of jurisdiction.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
That is exactly what I said in my speech. Quebec's entire health care community, like every premier in Canada, is calling for health transfers with no conditions because it is the provinces that manage the hospitals, that organize them and the work. The role of the federal government is clearly stated in the Constitution. It consists solely of transferring money to the provinces so that they can provide quality health care services. Seniors in Quebec and everywhere are calling for this. The entire health care community, including doctors, unions, and health care workers, is calling for transfers with no conditions.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, that is not how I see it. My bill simply says that the federal government will transfer the funds.
It will still be perfectly possible to uphold the principles in the Canada Health Act, since they are quite general. This does not open the door to privatizing health care.
Since this is a provincial jurisdiction, it is possible that a democratically elected government may decide that one part will go to the private sector, but let us be honest: Even though there is a Canadian law, private sector involvement in health care is widespread throughout Canada.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, John William Bosley passed away last Thursday. He was the 31st Speaker of the House of Commons.
On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to offer my condolences to his wife Mary and daughter Yanette, his family and friends, and members of his political party.
Mr. Bosley was elected in 1979 as a member of the opposition, and he was re-elected in 1984 and 1988 as a member of the Progressive Conservative government of the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney. In 1984, Brian Mulroney placed his trust in him by appointing him Speaker at the age of 37. At the time, he was the second-youngest person to hold that position.
He presided over the House for two tumultuous years before resigning. I remember the speech he gave on that occasion, lamenting the indiscipline in the House. He feared that this indiscipline would erode public respect for the institution. Looking back, it may be worth asking if his message should be heeded today.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Bosley was the very last Speaker to be appointed by a prime minister. He presided over the very first election of a Speaker, his successor. This responsibility is now assigned to the dean of the House, and I have had the honour of taking on this task for the past five years.
I am the only sitting member of Parliament to have had the privilege of serving alongside him in 1984 when he was Speaker of the House. I remember him as an intelligent, cultured and compassionate person. He was passionate about finance and about order and discipline. He was personally disciplined but also disciplined in his interactions with his colleagues and in his role as Speaker.
I thank John for the many years he devoted to public life. May he rest in peace.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
Yesterday evening, Monday, February 28, the Speaker said:
I would encourage members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to [Bill] C-237...to do so at an early opportunity.
I am rising on a point of order this evening in relation to that.
I admit that I was surprised by this statement. Royal recommendation is the mechanism by which a private member's bill cannot have any financial implications unless it is recommended by the Crown.
Financial implications refers to both new expenditures and reallocation of funds for other purposes. Bill C-237, which I am introducing, does not do either.
In my view, it is clear that Bill C-237 does not require a royal recommendation and has the potential to be voted on by the House at all stages and implemented, for the following five reasons.
First, it does not require any new spending.
Second, it does not change the transfer amounts, nor does it change the names of the beneficiaries or how the funding is allocated to them.
Third, it does not change the purpose of the transfer. The Canada health transfer will still be dedicated to paying for health care. The same goes for other transfers that are allocated to a province if it has “a program whose objectives are comparable to those of a federal program”.
Fourth, it does not force the executive's hand, which retains the latitude and margin of appreciation required to transfer the funds. That prerogative remains in place. The executive will decide whether the province has a comparable program and will determine whether the province is complying with the conditions in the Canada Health Act.
Finally, precedents are on my side. There have been many bills that have changed the normative framework without any financial implications. I actually found 31 bills that amend the Canada Health Act, and not one required a royal recommendation.
For all these reasons, I believe that Bill C-237 does not require a royal recommendation.
Let us examine it in detail. Bill C-237 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act in two ways.
It provides all interested provinces with the opportunity to opt out of a federal program that falls under the legislative authority of the provinces. In that case, the government can pay the province a transfer equivalent to the contribution that it would have received had it not withdrawn. This means that it is an equal amount or a zero sum.
The bill adds that the government will only pay the contribution if the province “has a program whose objectives are comparable to those of a federal program”. In short, the purpose of the transfer does not change either.
This mechanism is quite similar to the one that exists in the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, for example. If a province has its own program and withdraws from the federal program, it receives the same transfer that it would have received had it not withdrawn.
The transfer is unconditional and goes into the province's consolidated revenue fund, but only if it has a comparable program. It is up to the minister to determine whether it has a comparable program.
Without any conditions on how the province runs the program, the transfer still serves the same purpose, which is to ensure that students can access financial assistance.
This same principle is in Bill C-237, which I introduced. It does not change the amounts or recipients, the distribution of the amounts among them, or the purpose of the transfer. It simply reduces federal control over the management of provincial programs in the provinces' own jurisdictions. Again, this is about provincial management of provincial programs. That is the only thing that is impacted here, and it has little to do with the prerogative of the federal Crown.
Bill C-237 proposes a second amendment to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, this one just for Quebec. The federal government has announced that it plans to set conditions applicable to long-term care facilities and retirement homes. I assume that they will be included in the Canada Health Act, since long-term care facilities fall under the definition of “extended health care services” in the act.
Since Quebec was the only one to object, Bill C-231 would exempt Quebec, and only Quebec, from the Canada Health Act, much like the proposal by my colleague from Montcalm to exempt Quebec from the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in his Bill C-226 in the 43rd Parliament, which did not require a royal recommendation.
The Canada Health Act does not have financial implications per se. It sets out a normative framework, five principles for the government to consider in the Canada health transfer, which is provided for in the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. It is the latter act that has financial implications.
My bill, Bill C-237, does not change the purpose of the Canada health transfer. It does not change the purpose of the transfer defined in section 24(b) of the fiscal arrangements act as “contributing to providing the best possible health care system for Canadians and to making information about the health care system available to Canadians”. Bill C-237 does not change this section of the act, which sets out the purpose of the transfer.
Under the Canada Health Act, the government is responsible for determining whether the provinces are in compliance. In Bill C-237, the government determines whether the province has “a program whose objectives are comparable”. Personally, I would have preferred not to include that clause in Bill C-237, but I realized that this would have changed the purpose of the transfers and could therefore have required a royal recommendation.
Bill C-237 has no financial implications in terms of the amounts, their destination, their purpose or the general conditions. Only specific conditions in the Canada Health Act are affected.
Madam Speaker, I hear a lot of noise in the House and I am having a hard time delivering my speech.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate your intervention.
Only the specific conditions of the Canada Health Act are affected. The Speaker has ruled on many occasions that playing within these standards does not generate or reallocate an expenditure and therefore does not require a royal recommendation.
In the 27 years since the start of the 35th Parliament, when bills began to be tracked in the LEGISinfo parliamentary module, no fewer than 31 private members' bills have proposed amendments to the Canada Health Act.
All of them added new conditions. Some required the province to develop new services in order to receive the Canada health transfer. Others imposed requirements on how health services had to be delivered in order to receive the transfer. Others prohibited access to the Canada health transfer for provinces that provide certain free services, in this case abortion. I will let the members guess which party recommended that.
The Chair did not require a royal recommendation for any of these bills, not one. Of course, not all of them were on the order of precedence, so the Chair did not have to rule on many of them. However, in some cases, the Chair did have to do so.
Take Bill C-282, introduced during the 36th Parliament by the Liberal member for Ottawa—Vanier, the late Mauril Bélanger, a great defender of the rights of Franco-Ontarians. He introduced the bill in response to the crisis surrounding the Montfort Hospital, a francophone hospital in Ottawa that the Ontario government had tried to close.
The bill introduced a new condition in the Canada Health Act to set new language requirements for French-language services in the provinces and English-language services in Quebec. If the province did not meet these conditions, the minister could cut the transfer. The bill was placed on the order of precedence without the Chair indicating that it required a royal recommendation. It was subsequently debated.
If members consult the March 19, 2003, Hansard, they will see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health spoke on behalf of the Crown in the debate. He never made any mention of a royal recommendation. On the contrary, he asked members to refer the bill to the Standing Committee on Official Languages before second reading because “The federal government cannot and must not act unilaterally in a shared provincial jurisdiction. Any decision to broaden the scope of the Canada Health Act requires extensive consultations with the provinces”. In short, he asked the House not to pass the bill, even while recognizing that it had the right to do so.
I will give another example, that of Bill C-213, an act to enact the Canada pharmacare act, which was introduced by the member for New Westminster—Burnaby and voted on by the House at second reading on February 24, 2021. This bill basically creates a new transfer.
According to clause 4 of this bill, “The purpose of this Act is to establish criteria and conditions that must be met before a cash contribution may be made in respect of public drug insurance plans.” After setting out the specific conditions, the bill indicates that the minister “may” make a transfer to the provinces to fund a provincial drug program.
It is important to note that the bill does not set out a specific amount. I understand that it was specifically written that way so as to not generate any new spending and therefore not require royal recommendation. It worked. Even though the bill created a new transfer, even though it set out specific goals and conditions, it did not require royal recommendation because it did not generate any new spending.
If we apply the same logic to Bill C-237, we can come to only one conclusion. This bill does not require a royal recommendation.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-237, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill I am introducing protects the provinces, especially Quebec, from the biggest threat to their autonomy. This threat is the so‑called federal spending power.
First, under this bill, Quebec is exempt from any standards that the federal government imposes under the Canada Health Act, including the upcoming standards on long-term care homes.
Second, this bill amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. Quebec and any provinces that so desire will be able to withdraw, with full compensation, from federal programs in their exclusive areas of jurisdiction to regain their autonomy in the areas where they are meant to be autonomous.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite all art lovers to visit the Musée des cultures du monde in Nicolet to see the work of Sister Jeanne Vanasse who, at the age of 100, is presenting an exhibition called “La Genèse, un début sans fin”.
Sister Vanasse studied at the École des beaux-arts de Québec for four years, in the class of the famous painter Jean Paul Lemieux. In the 1960s, she began exhibiting her paintings and prints in all the major exhibitions in Quebec.
In 1967, she submitted her famous thesis on the visual arts to the minister of education. As a teacher at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières, she also participated in study trips to France, Spain and Italy.
As she is nearing the end of her journey on this earth, the artist wanted to delve into the beginnings of the world, as if the end and the beginning were one and the same phenomenon. She approaches the entire process with works that express surprising serenity.
I applaud her. Many of us will go to visit her exhibition and wish her a happy 100th birthday.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech and did not hear him talk much about border controls to stop illegal firearms, such as machine guns and handguns, from being brought across the border. There are some vulnerable areas that the government chooses not to control, for example, in some communities near Montreal.
Fewer guns and drugs could be a solution.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister wanted to show us that he could not be in the House in person because his bicycle had a flat tire?
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your appointment. I had the honour of sitting beside you for two years. We do not applaud the same speakers, but we had a very good rapport, and I have fond memories of that.
I would also like to congratulate the member for his very interesting speech, during which he raised a point about seniors who received financial assistance during the pandemic through the CERB.
That assistance was added to their income, prompting the government to cut the amounts they were getting through the guaranteed income supplement. Some of those people were working one day a week or were self-employed and could earn up to $5,000 before their GIS was reduced. During the pandemic, since everything was closed and no one could work, government guidelines should have allowed these seniors to receive up to $5,000 in assistance from the CERB before their GIS was cut. This would have been a big help to people who were previously receiving $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 or $8,000 in GIS payments.
Moreover, even if these people had received too much money, we could have been more humane by spreading the recovery of the overpayment over two or three years instead of one year. This would have allowed some people to survive, as some lost their entire GIS benefit for working one or two days before receiving the CERB.
Does my colleague not agree that the government should adopt this solution?
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Hello everyone.
I am very happy to be with you today.
This is the twelfth time that I have been elected and the fifth time that I have had the pleasure of presiding over the election of the Speaker.
Before the election, a journalist asked me if I had thought long and hard about seeking election. I told him that I had. I realized that Joe Biden and I were the same age. If he was able to run the United States, I should be able to run a riding.
After the election, the same journalist asked me if that was my last election campaign. After giving it some thought, I answered that I would only run two or three more times.
I apologize for speaking only in French for the time being. If I were to speak in English, I think you would still need interpretation. I will say a few words in English shortly.
Earlier, when we were entering, a member asked me what it takes to stay in shape and do this job at my age with such determination and so forth. I gave him three pieces of advice. I told him to eat what he does not want to eat, drink what he does not want to drink and to do the exercises that he does not want to do.
Let us turn our attention to serious matters.
Hon. members should have received by email last night the list of candidates for the speakership, the list of members who have withdrawn and the list of members who are ineligible as candidates. Those lists are available at the table if members wish to consider them before the vote.
Before we continue, I would invite those members whose names are still on the ballot but who do not wish to be considered for election to kindly rise and inform the Chair accordingly.
Since no member has risen, pursuant to Standing Order 3.1, the House must proceed to the speeches of candidates for Speaker. I would ask you to listen closely to these speeches.
Notwithstanding any Standing Order, any procedure or any practice adopted by this House, and to help the newly elected members identify the candidates for the office of Speaker, I will recognize in alphabetical order each candidate by name and electoral district.
When the last candidate to address the House completes his or her speech, I will leave the chair for 30 minutes, after which members will proceed to the election of the Speaker.
I will now call upon Mr. Marc Dalton, the hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, to speak for not more than five minutes.
View Louis Plamondon Profile
BQ (QC)
Before we move on to the second candidate, I would like to say a few words to my family from this exalted throne, because I forgot to do so when we started. My best to my whole family, my supporters and the voters in my riding, and especially to my partner of 27 years, who is currently battling cancer and is courageously staying the course. I am sure you will all join me in sending her our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
I now invite the hon. member for West Nova to speak for not more than five minutes.
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