Mr. Speaker, I finally have the floor. I could not wait to talk about this motion. I will share my time with the hon. member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges.
I am pleased to rise today to debate the implementation of a single tax and benefit return for Quebeckers, to be managed by Revenu Québec.
I must say that I was a bit surprised earlier to hear someone from Calgary speak for Quebeckers and know what Quebeckers want. That was very hard to fathom.
Collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners is essential to build a stronger economy and create good jobs for all middle-class Canadians.
Our government is well aware of the fact that provincial and territorial governments face the same challenges as the federal government. We also acknowledge the crucial role that communication plays in making sure that the efforts we are making to overcome these challenges come to fruition. Efficient governance requires partnerships between all levels of government. Only by working together will we bring about positive change.
Since the election of a new government in Quebec last October, our government has been focused on building a relationship based on trust and open dialogue. The Prime Minister met with the new Premier of Quebec a few days after the election during the Sommet de la Francophonie in Armenia.
It was a major opportunity, during which countries and governments of the Francophonie gathered to tackle common issues, especially building economies which are beneficial for all, addressing climate change and reinforcing democratic institutions. During their conversation, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec agreed to work together to face common challenges, like attracting foreign investments and creating new opportunities for all Canadians.
Our common priorities were clearly established: together, we continue standing up for workers, creating good jobs and building a strong economy for all regions of Quebec. We have worked with provincial and territorial governments no matter what party they belong to. Improving the lives of Canadians is not a partisan issue.
In Canada, provincial and federal ministers quickly set up a dialogue and, since then, have met several times multilaterally, which means federal-provincial-territorial meetings, as well as bilaterally, in order to discuss and advance issues of common interest.
Last December, during their meeting, the Prime Minister and the premiers identified fields of interest common to all governments, in particular the economy, the environment and transport. The meeting took place in Montreal, and it was the first time a first ministers meeting occurred in Quebec in half a century. This shows our will to give new impetus to our cooperation.
In January, at a cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Quebec, federal ministers had an opportunity to participate in meetings and round tables with Quebeckers, local representatives, and representatives from the private and non-profit sectors. This retreat provided a unique opportunity to hear directly from Quebeckers about their concerns, priorities and daily lives.
During this visit, the Prime Minister met with the Premier of Quebec to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as strengthening the economy; investing in infrastructure, which is very important in Quebec and in the rest of Canada; addressing the skills shortage in Quebec; and dealing with immigration. The skills shortage is a big issue in Quebec.
As an aside, I want to address the member for Mégantic—L'Érable's comments that he is prepared to have the 5,500 employees in question relocated. I cannot get over his interpretation of what it means to improve lives. It is not easy to relocate 5,500 employees, especially when they are in Jonquière and Shawinigan.
Of course, immigration was also discussed. That discussion highlighted two important issues for Quebec, namely immigration and the essential role that skills development plays in growing Quebec's economy.
As is the case across Canada, needs are increasing due to an aging population and changes to trade agreements and new technology, which are all significant factors in the Montreal area.
The Quebec economy is now stronger than it was three years ago. I can testify to that because three years ago, in my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, my constituents told me that, for couples, one of two jobs was always precarious. Since our government came to power, the economy is doing a lot better.
Over the last three years, the Government of Canada has signed a certain number of bilateral agreements with the Government of Quebec, including important asymmetrical agreements in the health care sector. Those agreements dealt primarily with mental health—and we know how important that is—home care for our elderly, early childhood education and child care.
We also worked closely to meet needs related to infrastructure, agriculture and the environment.
Several bilateral negotiations are under way regarding federal government compensation for temporary housing of asylum seekers, labour market transfer agreements and an asymmetric housing agreement.
We have seen encouraging results, and we have built a relationship with the new Government of Quebec that is based on collaboration and that should help us sign those and other agreements in the coming months.
We are proud to help build a Quebec that addresses the concerns of its citizens. Whether it be infrastructure, agriculture, health care or the fight against climate change, the Government of Canada wants Quebecers to know that it is their partner.
The decades-long partnership between the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec ensures that Quebeckers have an efficient tax system that respects Quebec’s autonomy and ensures good jobs in the regions. I will say it again, we are talking about 5,500 jobs in Quebec, in the Shawinigan and Jonquière regions.
Quebec is the only province in Canada with a separate tax administration to collect its personal income and business taxes. That is the choice that Quebeckers made and we have respected it.
We have made a lot of progress in restoring and strengthening ties between the Canada and Quebec governments. We always will to that. Quebeckers deserve nothing less.