Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning, committee members. Thank you for making time to hear presentations from MPs this morning.
First of all, there's a little handout that you're going to get. There are four key points that I want to raise as part of my contribution this morning.
First, I think the hybrid Parliament has been a success. It came together rather quickly in a very difficult time. Like most changes you make, there were some growing pains, and while we went through some of those growing pains, I'm sure there are other ways that we can improve upon the system as well.
I want to make sure that it is not lost on people that there has been a shift in this country since 2020. In ridings like mine, it has really been felt in my capacity to do my job. Let me walk you through it.
First of all, you have a map that shows the entirety of my riding. It's a small population of 30,000 people in a geographic area of 300,000 square kilometres. That is not small. If you were to take the island of Newfoundland and the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, they would all fit in my riding. That's an area served by 31 MPs; my area is served by one MP, which is me. Populations vary, of course, as you know.
How do I get to my riding? That's what I want to talk about as part of my presentation. You can see see how large it is. It borders on Quebec in two areas and goes way up north towards Nunavut. How do you get there? There are four distinct regions. Forty per cent of my riding is isolated, with fly-in and fly-out communities only. The rest of it I can access by road once I'm on the ground. Road access from one community to the community furthest away that I can drive to is over 12,000 kilometres. It's not a short drive.
To give you an idea, I very rarely leave here on a Friday, because it's impossible for me to get to my riding before Saturday, and then I have to leave on Sunday to come back. The hybrid Parliament was the first opportunity I had to be there on a Friday: to arrive through St. John's on Friday morning, get online, do my House duty and do my votes—whatever the case was—and then have the rest of the day in my riding. I was able to do that sometimes on Monday.
Now, with the flight schedule, we were having a seven-day-a-week schedule from Air Canada, so I could go to Halifax and go into Goose Bay, go to St. John's overnight and the next day go into Goose Bay or go into Blanc-Sablon on the Quebec side to go to that part of my riding. It is very complicated, because it is very spread out and not connected. Then, on the other days, I go to western Labrador on this side of the Quebec border, so I overnight in Montreal, I take an early flight at 5:30 a.m. and I get there by mid-afternoon on Friday.
That's just to give you an example, because there is an argument that says, “You knew what you were signing on for.” Well, when I signed on, there were two airlines seven days a week. Today, I have one—and that's down to three days a week—and a single airline going into most communities, sometimes if at all. That has made it very difficult.
I have four very important points and I'm happy to discuss them later if anyone has questions.