Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Brandon—Souris.
It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to our opposition day motion and to, frankly, agree with the government. It has said it wants to talk about the response to the pandemic and talk about COVID-19 to help Canadians in every part of the country get through these challenging times. However, I have been listening with interest as Liberals come up with every reason they possibly can not to support our looking into the government's COVID-19 response.
I want to thank our shadow health minister, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, for her fantastic work on this issue. The Liberals are trolling her Facebook page for quotes and coming up with reasons not to support her, but she is idolized on this side of the House. Apparently she is even idolized on the government side, as they have been tracking her every move these last few days. I think that speaks volumes about the need to be back in Parliament to ask tough questions.
In my previous work, before becoming a member of Parliament, I proudly served as the mayor for the township of North Dundas, which is just south of Ottawa, and on the United Council of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. I know what it is like to have to govern. A key part of all municipal work is scrutiny and accountability, and that is required when we make tough decisions.
Yes, we are in challenging times and our party and this Parliament have responded by helping Canadians get the assistance they need. However, a key part of being on the opposition benches is asking tough questions, scrutinizing and getting the information that Canadians deserve. Remember, never before have we seen this amount of money go out in the period of time we have seen.
We are now into the second wave, and I am pleased to support this motion, which looks at how to get through the second wave and help Canadians. As I said last night when doing some media interviews and talking to constituents on the phone back home, this motion helps us move forward and improves our response to COVID-19 by going back and looking into the expenditures and the way things were done. The health committee is the appropriate spot for this. I also agree with my colleague from Timmins—James Bay that we have to bring this to the floor of the House of Commons, because the Liberals are filibustering on COVID-19 at the health committee.
We need to scrutinize and we need to get the documents, but not just the documents the government wants us to take a look at. We need all documents that are relevant for us to make an assessment and do an analysis, going through the law clerk and through a procedure, and making sure of that. Yes, there is quite a long list of documents being requested, but hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent in the last seven months. This is what Parliament is for. This is our job as the opposition. We work together where we can but also scrutinize and get answers.
I can say Bill Morneau's name now in the House because he is not here anymore. We have seen a key theme: filibustering. It was nothing to see here, nothing to do. A few months later, the former finance minister saw a different path and now he is no longer the finance minister for Canada or the member for Toronto Centre, which is in the midst of a by-election. It is when the opposition gets the opportunity to ask tough questions, dig and scrutinize that we can get the truth out, not the rosy picture that we always see.
One thing I want to focus my comments on today is rapid testing. We have been asking lots of questions on this in question period, and the media has been picking up this issue. Most importantly, Canadians are realizing it. What the heck is happening with rapid testing? It is a massive failure on the government's part, for small businesses, parents, students and everybody else. It has been months and months since COVID-19 hit us here at home. We have worked with countries around the world, such as Japan, Germany, the U.K. and the United States, in sharing national intelligence, for example. We have a good working relationship with them on this matter, but when it comes to looking at approvals for rapid testing, they approved rapid testing months ago and tests are nowhere to be found in Canada. We are months behind. The Conservatives are rightfully asking about what has gone wrong. Why are we months behind? When we share intelligence information with those countries, why can we not share some of the health best practices in this serious economic and health crisis we are facing?
We need all hands on deck, we need to get access to the information, and we need to be able to pressure this government to treat this issue with the urgency that it deserves.
When I speak in the House, I always try to bring a context of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry into the chamber, and I want to share the story of Krista and Mike O'Neill from O'Neill's Pub in Long Sault. Our eastern Ontario health unit had been contemplating for the past few days reverting to stage 2 in our region. The outcry from businesses was very emotional and overwhelming, and Mike and Krista posted on their Facebook page of O'Neill's Pub. I printed it off last night, and there were 1,200 shares and counting. It was talking about the desperation and frustration that small businesses like their restaurant are facing. If we go back, and if they cannot keep their doors open, they are panicking and worried about going bankrupt.
I just want to make sure that I put into the record an acknowledgement of their work, effort and stress and also note that while the testing, the testing sites and the response on the front lines is handled at the provincial level, it is Health Canada that has not delivered good options to businesses like O'Neill's Pub in Long Sault. If they had access to rapid-testing options, like many other advanced countries did months ago, they could have that tool at their disposal to test their employees every day to build an even better case of staying open and staying in business. That is the contrast that people are facing and it is the frustration people are facing, because this technology, these advancements and this whole process has not been there.
We have seen lineups of cars miles long in eastern Ontario in Casselman. In Winchester, the assessment centre for the testing model saw 1,000 phone calls on a Friday morning when the wave hit. It is not sustainable the way the government is operating these testing options and approvals. We want to get access to those documents. We want to see what they did, frankly, what they did not do, to get a proper process in place to make a tangible difference as we get through the second wave. I look forward to getting those answers and asking those tough questions for the betterment of a wide variety of people.
I mentioned the restaurant industry in my riding. I think of the Glen Stor Dun Lodge in Cornwall or the Hartford Retirement Residence in Morrisburg. If they had access to rapid testing now, like many other countries have and have done approvals, I think they would feel a lot more comfortable in the coming months as we get into this second wave.
I also want to touch on the frustration I have with the line of this Kumbaya approach that I have heard from the government the last little while: We work with provinces and territories and all the stakeholders, and it is all wonderful. There has been progress. Our colleagues here on this side of the House have supported where need be, but I also want to highlight that when it comes to rapid testing, there are far from pleasant reviews from our provincial partners on this.
The Government of Manitoba had issued a press release begging the federal government to not block their work on rapid testing to help the province out. To have to beg for that through a news release in the news media does not symbolize to me a good, collaborative working relationship that is set on good communication.
About a month ago, I quoted the Premier of Ontario who talked about the rapid-testing failure. He was doing an event in Huntsville speaking with passion about the frustration on the delays that he had with Health Canada. I just want to read this into the record and make sure that Canadians see that it is not all rosy, it is not all perfect. There are tough questions that need to be asked.
He said that:
The reason there are lineups, very simply, is Health Canada. We have been waiting for months for the antigen tests, the saliva tests. God bless them, they work hard, but they need to get moving on this. This is affecting the whole system. Nothing is more important to the people of Ontario right now than getting Health Canada to approve the test. I am hearing crickets, nothing, silence. How do you expect us to plan?
On something so fundamental, we need access, and not just to the documents that the Liberals want to give but access to them all to see the full story and, most importantly, allow us to advocate how we can get through the second wave and get this issue to the health committee so that we can get results for Canadians.