Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
Indeed, there remains one door to open. As for arguments such as those of the parliamentary secretary, let us hear no more of them. The government has a responsibility to ensure that its programs are administered fairly.
In fact, 272,000 people were identified. They were not receiving the guaranteed income supplement although they were entitled to it. The same applies to probably some 68,000 people in Quebec. Some of those people were located and a certain number received retroactive payments of up to 11 months when that was possible. However, there are cases where people were owed sums of money covering a period of two, three, four or five years. Had those amounts been paid—it is sad to say—some seniors would have been able to live out their lives with dignity. On that issue, there is no administrative argument for denying that right. We must find ways to make it happen.
If a decision was made to reach agreement in good faith with these people just as the Canada Revenue Agency is prepared to accept a compromise to some degree when someone owes money to it; if the federal government adopted a similar attitude to deal with retroactive claims that would be significant progress.
Let us accept as a starting principle that these people are entitled to retroactive payments and let us provide a retroactive period that is much greater than 11 months. If that happened, seniors in Quebec and all of Canada could consider that they are being treated fairly. Until then, we must continue to ensure that every person who is entitled to the guaranteed income supplement can receive it. We must ensure that this bill deals fairly with the issue of permanent residents. In addition, we must ensure that the next budget contains a statement about retroactivity of the guaranteed income supplement. There is no reason not to do so. The minister has one or two months to think about it.
We could then feel that as parliamentarians we had done our work. It is important to create wealth in a society; but we will be judged on the way that wealth is shared. At present, that wealth is not being distributed fairly. It is being done to the detriment of the most unfortunate members of our society. We have a particular social responsibility on this side and we expect the government to move on this matter.
In any event, on the Bloc Québécois side we have begun the battle. We will continue to fight and we will not let up until the people have obtained justice in terms of the retroactive payments that are owed to them by the federal government.