Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, which I will strongly oppose.
I would like to talk about Sunday's municipal elections in Quebec. There are 37 municipalities in the riding I represent, and it spans 3,200 kilometres. I would like to congratulate all of the candidates who ran in the municipal elections and all those who won. I care about having a good working relationship with other representatives. I look forward to working with the newly elected officials. I would also like to celebrate the fact that more women were elected mayor. I am very proud to say that we now have more women mayors back home. This is good news.
In my speech today, I want to talk about the issues that are not part of the Liberal government's bill. For example, the government is not doing anything about credit card fees, and more recently, it refused to work with us, the provinces, and other stakeholders to create a universal pharmacare program. I also want to talk about how the government is refusing to remedy tax unfairness by facilitating the intergenerational transfer of family farms. The last issue I will touch on is employment insurance.
I will start with credit card fees, which cost Canadian merchants tens of thousands of dollars. It is their second-largest expense after salaries. Small retailers make up more than 50% of the Canadian economy. For example, a Saint-Boniface service station called Alimentation Lemoyne & Auger in my riding pays $30,000 per year in credit card transaction fees. That is a lot of money. Canadian small businesses pay the highest credit card transaction fees in the world. The Liberal government should do like other countries, such as Australia and EU countries, which have capped fees at 0.5% or less.
This is a measure that the Liberal government should have introduced for small business owners. We really would have liked to see some progress. We would have liked for the government to stand up for small business owners in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. There is supermarket owner in Laval who spends nearly $200,000 on credit card fees. The government needs to act now to better regulate those fees.
Last month, the NDP used an opposition day to raise a debate in the House of Commons on the need to adopt a universal pharmacare program. In the riding that I represent, the population is aging, so I care about health-related issues. We had a debate in the House of Commons, but unfortunately, the Liberal government decided to vote against our motion.
That day, representatives of the Centre Avec des Elles in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon and the Centre des femmes l'Héritage in Louiseville came to attend question period. They also got to meet several MPs. These people from my riding, who came to the House the day that we moved an opposition motion on the need for a universal pharmacare program, could not believe that the government was going to vote against such a measure, when, unfortunately, the cost of prescription drugs is rising every year.
The people I represent did not think it was the right approach to lowering the cost of drugs. They were really frustrated to see the Liberal government's inaction and unwillingness to act. We would have really liked to see something in the budget for this. However, there is nothing yet again. There is no action on the part of the Liberal government.
I had have the honour of being the agriculture and agrifood critic since 2015 after being the deputy critic from 2012 to 2015. I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food since 2012. I am the longest serving member of the committee. Anything that has to do with the transfer of farms and fishing businesses is really important. We know that Canada's population is aging and that succession and planning is not going well.
My colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques introduced a bill to address a fiscal injustice in the transfer of farms. Unfortunately, that bill was defeated in the House of Commons before it could be referred to a committee. We think it is disgraceful that the government is doing nothing to help the next generation of farmers in Canada.
I would also like to raise the matter of employment insurance. I represent a rural riding where many people work in seasonal industries. These people depend on EI, but they do not always have access to it, sadly. The budget contained no changes or assistance to give workers access to employment insurance. Currently, 15,000 Canadians are having to contend with the spring gap. This needs to be discussed, because during the campaign, the Liberal Party said it would fix the problem by improving the system and making it so that these people have access to EI.
There have been some minor changes, but the Liberal government has not carried out a comprehensive reform to improve access to employment insurance for workers in the agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and tourism sectors. These sectors are incredibly important to the economy, and we need to make sure we support the people working in them.
The unemployed workers' movement in Quebec claims that the Liberal government has not reformed the employment insurance system. Forty-four percent of Canadians will not be eligible for employment insurance. That is a lot of people, a lot of Canadians and Quebeckers who need reform and change so they can access EI when they need it. This is really important to them.
We really hoped to see some progress on reducing inequality. We know that a special committee was formed to examine pay equity. A report entitled “It's Time to Act” was even published. The government committed to taking action, but not today, tomorrow, or even in a year. It is going to introduce a bill on pay equity to ensure that women and men earn equal pay for work of equal value. It is going to take until the end of 2018. I am trying to understand why the government is dragging its feet on introducing a bill that would truly further equality.
I think everyone agrees that there is still work to be done. It is 2017. The government claims to be feminist, but it needs to walk the talk. This bill needs to pass quickly. We are deeply disappointed to see so many things missing from this budget, especially since the government is always saying that it can do better.
The government should have done better with this legislation.