Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak about this very important issue. In fact, I think there is no issue more important than the review and study of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Canadians.
I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis.
Before I get into the basis of my intervention today, I found it interesting to listen to the arguments from the Liberal Party when our leader and the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill opened this debate. I find hearing the health minister say that it is irresponsible for the Liberal government to change its tactics in the middle of a battle to be, in short, completely ridiculous. I am very happy that Sir Julian Byng and Arthur Currie did not have that same perspective and were not like the Liberals. When the Battle of Vimy Ridge was going on, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers were dying, they invented the rolling barrage in the middle of the battle to win Vimy Ridge. I would ask the Minister of Health to rethink her position on this and maybe start thinking of The Art of War by Sun Tzu and not Colonel Custer when she is putting the lives of Canadians at risk.
Also, we have many Liberal members saying that this motion is going to open up trade secrets with corporations and agreements that have been made with corporate Canada. It is interesting that just a couple of days ago there was an interim order granting the Minister of Health the authority, or new powers, to request documents from corporations and drug companies in Canada when it comes to COVID-19. The hypocrisy of that is ridiculous.
Why was the health minister here arguing today that we should not be asking for government documents because they are not important, while at the same time she is giving herself new powers to do the exact same thing to Canadian corporations and drug companies?
When the Liberals argue that asking for these documents is going to put those agreements in the public eye, she is going to be doing the exact same thing. The hypocrisy of this, I find, is quite ridiculous.
In my discussions with my constituents, they want a strategy. They want to see a plan from the Liberal government on how we are going to deal with COVID and the pandemic. When the Prime Minister prorogued, it was the last step in what has been a very predictable process. When Canadians needed their elected officials and were relying on us the most to deal with one of the biggest threats we have had in a generation, this pandemic, the Prime Minister first shut down Parliament, then he prorogued Parliament. Now we are finally back and he is filibustering committees: ethics, finance and now health. Then, when he is not getting his way, he threatens an election in the middle of a pandemic.
When we went through prorogation, the whole idea was to have a reset, and that we would come back and have a clear vision of where Canada was going. We have seen none of that. We have wasted months of Parliament's time getting nowhere. All that we saw in the throne speech was a rehash of broken Liberal promises. We have seen nothing about a plan to access vaccines. We have seen nothing about a plan to access rapid testing. The only thing that we have seen from the Liberal government this far is planning an additional round of closures for businesses across Canada. Our economy cannot afford that. We cannot afford for closure to be the only alternative, especially knowing that there are other alternatives that jurisdictions around the world are using.
Germany, Japan, Austria and Iceland are all using rapid testing technology and reducing quarantine times to keep their businesses open, to keep schools open, to keep families united, to keep regions and communities connected, and to ensure that they can resurrect their airline and tourism industries. However, in Canada, we are falling well behind other jurisdictions around the world. We are using a 14-day quarantine that most of our partners are not using. In fact, more than 80 countries around the world are using this new technology, but Canada is not among them. It is very difficult for us to go back to our constituents and say, “You know what? Other countries have that technology.” We do not have to rely on a 14-day quarantine or closures. Most businesses will not survive a second closure.
How do we look them in the face and say we could be using this rapid testing technology or even home-based testing, but we prefer not to? That is absolutely out of touch with what is going on in our communities. I will give a quick example. In my riding, as I know many of my colleagues have done, we started what we call the Foothills recovery task force. We surveyed hundreds of businesses in my riding. We wanted to be a one-stop shop for them to come to with questions: to be a resource, when it came to federal and provincial programs, so that they knew what was available to them. What I found very interesting was that, when we surveyed these businesses, fewer than 30% of them could access, or were eligible for, federal programs like the emergency business program, the wage subsidy or even the rent subsidy, which we know has been an absolute failure. For months, the Liberals have been promising to change these programs to make them more broadly accessible.
That is not what is happening in my rural southern Alberta riding, where these businesses cannot access these programs. What they need is the ability to stay open, keep their workers employed, keep their business doors open and keep food on their families' tables. Rapid testing is one perfect example of a way for us to accomplish that. When that technology is being used in other countries and not here in Canada, I question that. That is really the basis of what the motion is today. We want to look at what got us here. What decisions did the Liberal government make to get us to this point?
We can use that as a starting point of where to go from here. What vaccine technology has been reviewed? How close are we to rapid testing? How close are we to home-based testing? What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of Canadians? Those are the things that we want to discuss, which are quite prudent at the health committee.
What have we been faced with? Thus far, we have been faced with ridiculous filibustering by Liberal members at the health committee. We have heard that it is too much work for them to go through all these documents: that they want their Thanksgiving weekend and really do not want to have to do this right now.
Do those members of the health committee realize why they are here? They were elected by their constituents to come to the House of Commons, get their hands dirty and go to work. Yes, if we have to spend a weekend or a long night session reading documents that are pertinent to the health and safety of Canadians, damn right. That is what we have been sent here to do, and no excuses are good enough for that.
Two other members of the Liberal Party at the health committee said the font of the motions was too small and they could not read them. Are they kidding? Are they serious? Zoom in. They say it is going to take too long for our public sector workers to be able to access these documents. I have a lot of pride in what our public sector workers have done through COVID-19 and the response that they have had. Some of these programs could take months if not years to develop and roll out, but they have done it in sometimes days or hours. I applaud them for that. However, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and it does not take that long to type “search” into our computers and press print. That is what we are asking the public sector workers to do on this file. I understand it is a big job, but I am willing to do the job of reviewing these documents. It is absolutely not right for the Liberals to block this information that is crucial to Canadians. It is crucial that we keep our businesses open and resurrect our airline industry. What is clear, for example, is that rapid testing gives us a pathway to economic recovery.
In closing, I find it extremely frustrating that the Liberals are blocking this important debate, discussion and review at the health committee, but it seems to be that the government's hostility to the truth is only matched by the Prime Minister's penchant for ethics and corruption violations.