Thank you, Mr. Chair. I assure you that I am paying attention to my speaking time and should not go over.
I want to begin by acknowledging the witnesses, as well as the minister and Ms. Martinez Ferrada, and thanking them for joining us. I have actually been in frequent contact with Ms. Martinez Ferrada lately. I am very grateful to her for her cooperation, but that does not mean I would not have any criticisms or, I should say, constructive questions.
Minister, even before the government announced $1,500 in financial support per foreign worker during the quarantine, the Bloc Québécois was already thinking—unsurprisingly—that this should be publicly funded. Since it was not, however, you offered agricultural producers $1,500 in assistance per foreign worker, which was interpreted by everyone at the time as an automatic lump sum payment.
I want to point out to the committee that people from the agricultural community are the only ones who must pay their workers during the quarantine period. That cost is already being incurred, without taking into account the higher airfare, the fact that those workers arrived later than planned and various other factors.
Agricultural producers are currently telling me that they have forms to fill out and receipts to provide to prove their expenses, and that the $1,500 has now become a maximum of $1,500.
How can you explain that change? What is more, can you guarantee to producers that they will in fact receive $1,500 per foreign worker?