Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Despite all the upheaval it causes, the crisis we are experiencing, considerable in scope though it is, can also be an opportunity to begin a transition. What is essential in normal times may, during a crisis, become crucial. What is unjust may, in times of crisis, become frankly scandalous. In Quebec, we are generally allergic to blatant injustice and inequality.
Yesterday, Ottawa announced new support for large companies. Many of us in Quebec feel that, when a company knocks on the state's door to ask for assistance, it is totally legitimate for the state to impose conditions before providing its support. We in the Bloc Québécois feel that there should be a limit, a ceiling, on the assistance provided to large companies, in order to avoid abuses in executive compensation. That is also the prevalent position in Quebec.
A few years ago, after the “Bombardier affair” in Quebec—I will not dwell on that because Quebecers are all too familiar with it—three of the four political parties that sat in the National Assembly and that still sit these took a position of that kind. A number of civil society groups in Quebec share it also. The United States, which, you will agree, is no bastion of socialism, has already implemented similar policies for periods of crisis. The idea is to offer support, but with conditions.
According to a report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on January 2, the 100 highest-paid CEOs in Canada earned 227 times more in 2018 than the average worker. The average salary for workers increased by 2.6% between 2017 and 2018. Given that inflation was then at 2.3%, it can be said that there was practically no increase. By contrast, the salary increase for CEOs in the same period was 18%, even in cases where the companies suffered losses.
Let us be clear that we were not in a crisis when that study was conducted. We cannot even imagine what the figures are today. At this point, we are no longer talking about a gap but an abyss. Wealth is concentrated at the top of the pyramid, but clearly does not flow down to the base.
Does the government intend to put a ceiling on executive compensation to ensure that they are not the only ones to profits from the support at this time of crisis? The question is clear and I am asking you to give me a clear answer. If I don't get one, I am going to have to demand a new version of the Clarity Act.