Mr. Chair, if I may, I'd like to begin with a few words for the family and friends of Maxime Miron-Morin, who was lost in the Canadian Forces helicopter crash in the Ionian Sea. Mr. Miron-Morin is from Trois-Rivières, the region that welcomed me a few years ago. My thoughts are with all the people of the Trois-Rivières community, the Mauricie region, Quebec and Canada after the dramatic loss of these six lives.
Many human lives were lost in a much more dramatic military context. We lost 7,600 during the liberation of the Netherlands, in which the Canadian Forces and, of course, many Quebeckers took part. The duty of remembrance to which we are committed today must continue, in the hope that the conditions that make human beings develop the desire to take the lives of other human beings will become a thing of the past as quickly as possible, because it is such an aberration in its very essence.
The conditions for this to happen as little as possible were largely created after the Second World War. There are still terrible conflicts, which explains the need for armed forces. However, the armed forces can be used for other purposes and play a civilian role in our societies.
Of course, I would like to say a word about a Quebec hero, Léo Major. History tells us that he single-handedly liberated a municipality from German forces in the Netherlands. He is the kind of little known and very real hero who helps to create a strong identity within a nation.
These people who fought, certainly for their country, their nation and the people they identified with, often fought for their loved ones and their families. They did it to protect their loved ones, and we owe a lot to those people. We owe a lot to those who came before us. We owe a lot to the people who protected at the cost of their lives, but also built the rich society we live in today. That rich society now has the means to deal with an unprecedented health crisis.
It isn't innocent to remember today that if we pay tribute to people who have, in many cases, been dead for a long time, we could pay a living tribute to the seniors who are still with us, to those who have indeed built this rich society that can now face the pandemic. But words are not enough to pay tribute to them.
We have a duty to remember those who came before us, but we have a duty of action to those who are still with us. In purely health matters, we have a duty to ensure that as many people as possible who were with us before the crisis are still with us after the crisis. We must bring them alive and well to the other side. However, we also have an obligation, which we are too slow to honour, to relieve the most vulnerable people in our society of a weight, a burden and an anxiety that is becoming very heavy.
We stopped sitting in this Parliament in mid-March. Subsequently, we resumed our activities, sporadically and virtually. It is now the beginning of May and it is still our duty together—I do not want to point the finger at anyone, especially since we insist that we are ready to collaborate—to act now, on behalf of our seniors who are very much alive.
I repeat, and I can never repeat enough, that our seniors are most fragile in terms of their health. In that respect, in this pandemic, that does not need to be demonstrated by statistics. They are also most fragile in terms of their anxiety about finances. Geographically, they are the most isolated. Often, in the regions, they are isolated in places where few can travel. In Quebec, they have only just been allowed to go outside. They are isolated because they are less familiar with information technologies. That is why, in the east of the country, our elected representatives are telling us that the Service Canada offices must be reopened.
Once again, I am going to make a request. It represents a very small fraction of the assistance measures that have been implemented to date. We must settle this now. I want to see a smile of relief appear on the faces of hundreds of thousands of seniors who are impatient, yet who show not a fleeting shadow of malice. They are impatient simply because they are afraid and because they do not know how to deal with the situation. I am asking that we give the notion of urgency real meaning. At the outset, we feel the urgency. We want to address the urgency. But, with every passing day, the very notion of urgency loses more of its meaning, to the extent that the emergency measures that will end in a few weeks may not have fulfilled the functions for which they were created.
Since those who went before us have passed away, we have gathered the conditions that provide us with a better society. Today, let us forsake no segment of that society, be it the lobstermen in the east, the teams of researchers valiantly seeking solutions to our problems, the many, many workers in the highly diversified tourist industry wondering how they are going to make it through the summer, given that the programs will not longer exist at that point. And, of course, our seniors, to whom we owe everything.
The word "urgency”, with all its precision and all its meaning, must remain the first of our concerns, until we are certain that we have left no one behind. Just like our ancestors in times of war who did all they possibly could so that none of their own was left behind.
So I invite us to act on our compassion and our remembrance. I invite us to act quickly on behalf of those whom we love, and to act, above all, out of respect for their own ancestors, who gave their lives.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.