Madam Speaker, I want to reciprocate my talented colleague from Salaberry—Suroît's kind words. She is a role model for me. To work with her is to emulate her.
I want to thank the people of my riding, Manicouagan. I have not had the opportunity to do so yet. We have been very fortunate on the North Shore. Throughout the whole COVID pandemic, we have had only about 150 cases. I want to congratulate the folks back home who follow the public health guidelines and encourage them to not give up. Just because we have no cases does not mean we can let our guard down.
I also want to thank all the health care workers. Although we have had few cases in my region, they are always on duty.
I also want to thank everyone who has come up with smart, innovative and creative solutions. That is exactly what we need during a crisis like this one.
I have to say, tody's topic is of particular interest to me. We are talking about health and the crisis. I am a person with my own story. I come from a family of individuals who have worked in health care. There are a lot of nurses in my circles.
My mother is a nurse. All my life, I have heard people talk about the health care system and its pressing needs. I am now in my forties, and I was hearing about that when I was five, seven or eight years old. I am still hearing about it now, and I think the needs are becoming increasingly desperate. If I might pay tribute to my mother, at one point, the needs were so dire that she was thinking of quitting her job for her own health. The health care system is clearly in a terrible state. These people are committed. As I have said before, it is a calling.
I support the motion before us today. I would like to see a comprehensive study of the government's actions during the crisis. That is the opposition's role. As I was thinking about what I would say today, I decided to reiterate some of my remarks. On too many occasions in this Parliament, I have risen because attempts were being made to silence the opposition. The Liberals did not want to talk about WE Charity, so they prorogued the House. Now they do not want us to adopt a motion to examine the government's actions because they do not want to talk about that.
The government is always trying to avoid dialogue, which is the cornerstone of democracy. This is where one side has one way of thinking, and the other side has another way of thinking. There needs to be a discussion. As my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît pointed out, we need to be able to ask the tough questions and dig deeper. We always need to push further, but the Liberals will not let us.
In the past few weeks and months, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and government members in general have not stopped going on about how this is the biggest crisis Canada has faced since the Second World War, from 1939 to 1945.
This is the biggest crisis, a time when we should be assessing how we can improve and how we can save lives, but the government refuses to talk about what it did. We are not trying to make improvements just for the sake of it. People are depending on us. We must be responsible.
I have spoken about my past, my own personal story. I want to point out that members in the House come from different backgrounds. I have a teaching background, having taught at the CEGEP level. I cannot help but draw a parallel to my own experience and what I do as a teacher. My colleague drew the same parallel to her experience as a manager.
One of my roles as a teacher is to correct students. It is not always fun, because I have to focus and ask myself what the person might have been thinking, what they had access to, and what they were able to do in order to objectively and thoroughly assess the assignment. The purpose of all that is for the student to achieve certain objectives. I do that with students aged 17 to 21 who are heading to university. I prepare them for starting university. I ensure that they acquire the necessary knowledge.
We have a government that is managing the second-biggest crisis in history, but it does not even want to check or find out or be told if it has done something wrong or if it could be doing better. It says we cannot do anything because we are in the middle of the second wave. There are people who may die of COVID-19.
Exams are not fatal, fortunately, but if I had a second exam next week, I would certainly want to know what I did right in the first exam and what I can do to improve.
As elected members, we have a responsibility, but we must also be humble. Humility enables us to learn and grow in order to do better moving forward. That is truly the role of the opposition, which I will talk about more later, but the analogy is appropriate. I believe that the government should learn its lesson, because no one is above learning from the past. That is what it should do, and fast.
I will say this again, because as a teacher, I believe that repetition can make the message stick. The Bloc Québécois decided to vote against the throne speech because of the health transfer issue.
Premier Legault asked for a significant increase in the health transfer, because year after year, the federal government has been shirking its responsibilities to a significant degree. The concept of responsibility will come up many times, I believe.
The federal government's share of health care used to be 50% and used to cover 50% of Quebec's health expenditures, but its share has been shrinking steadily and is now just 21%. Health care is not a federal responsibility, it is the jurisdiction of the provinces and Quebec. Despite what the premiers are asking for, and regardless of what previous governments did, the current federal government is shirking its responsibilities.
Then it stands up and lectures us. I find that arrogant, insulting and disrespectful towards our constituents, and I will explain why. It lectures us and tells us that it saved us. It is playing the saviour.
Let me suggest an analogy, a dramatic one. Imagine if I were to starve a child, give them nothing to eat, even though I am responsible for feeding them, and then accuse them of being hungry. That is what the feds were doing with other governments. The federal government told Quebec that it sent in the army to help because Quebec was utterly incapable of taking care of its own people. Outwardly, this was a show of kindness and generosity on the part of the federal government, but there was really nothing generous about it.
They cause the problem, and then they decide to be the solution. Maybe their goal is just to interfere where they do not belong or, as the leader of the Bloc Québécois adroitly pointed out, maybe they just want to be able to put a little Canadian flag on a cheque and send it off to reinforce the impression that Canada is the one in charge of people's health.
The thing is, that is Quebec's responsibility. The nurses and all the other health care workers work for Quebec. Quebec pays, but Ottawa is withholding Quebec's money.
Eventually, the system will break down, because we have an aging population. Not only has there been a shortfall for many years now, but the aging population will create additional needs, so the transfers will need to be increased even more. Add the COVID-19 crisis on top of that, and it is easy to imagine how far off the mark we are.
I have not said half of what I wanted to say. I could go on and on, but I will wrap up now.
In the House today, in response to questions about what is going on at the University of Ottawa, the Prime Minister once again pretended that the problem does not exist. If nobody mentions it, there is no problem. It was the same with the WE Charity scandal and with the Aga Khan. These problems simply do not exist, because the Prime Minister says so. I do not know what happens in committee, but when it comes to health care, just because we are not talking about a problem does not mean it does not exist.
As I enjoy literature, I would like to quote a passage from 1984 by George Orwell:
And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'