Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his excellent argument in favour of this important institution that is our Parliament, where we have the privilege of sitting. It is not for nothing that he won the orator of the year award in 2018. He is the first francophone to earn that title. There is another title that he must certainly be proud of right now, that of grandfather. I congratulate the hon. member on becoming a grandfather.
My colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent mentioned that Parliament is one of the pillars of the House of Commons. Today, we are debating a motion moved by the government proposing a committee that would hold a question period four times a week. I would say that is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. A committee of the whole is just one of the tools of Parliament. The role of Parliament is fundamental to our democracy. As everyone knows, there are three pillars to our democracy, the executive, or the government, the legislative, or the House, and the judiciary. A democracy works when there is a balance of power, or checks and balances.
To date, Parliament has not been sitting for an obvious reason, and that is the pandemic. We are now in the process of “reopening” and activities are resuming gradually. The role of Parliament is legislative. It must review the legislation that the government proposes to implement. As the official opposition, we decided to let the government act more quickly during this crisis. The downside is that acting quickly and doing things well sometimes do not go hand in hand. We are doing our best. We appreciate it because we realize that Canadians are going through some very demanding times. That is why we have worked together with the government and we will continue to do so.
As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent mentioned, people must be reminded of one thing. When the Prime Minister comes down the stairs and makes announcements worth billions of dollars, it is not his money. It is Canadians' money. Unfortunately, we know that this is borrowed money. That is one more reason to ensure that the money that is raining down on us is invested wisely and will help us support the economy during the pandemic and ensure its recovery.
In our opinion, that is the reason why it is important that Parliament fully assume its role. We are showing that we can do it with a small group of parliamentarians while respecting public health guidelines. Obviously, the Liberals enjoy trying to get us to say that we want us all to be crammed in here like sardines, one right next to the other. That is not necessary. We can be flexible when it comes time to sit, because we believe that Parliament is an essential service, particularly during a pandemic and particularly at a time when the government has thrown open the floodgates.
Sometimes, the way in which the government opens the floodgates has negative effects. That is precisely when it is important that the opposition play its role. Today, I would like to give a concrete example of the government putting the cart before the horse, as the saying goes. I am talking about the Canada emergency student benefit. We are aware that we need to help all Canadians. I will talk about a reality in my riding, which goes from Lévis, near the river, to Bellechasse and all the way to Etchemins. I would venture to say that, before the pandemic, my riding was at full employment. Of course, the unemployment rate has gone up, but we need people. There is a shortage of workers in my area of the country. In fact, businesses are currently hiring workers.
The government is supporting our economy by maintaining the employer-employee relationship. That is fundamental. Of course, summer is around the corner. That is the season when young people are looking for a job. I am sure that every member in the House knows young people who have found a job, are looking for a job or have already started working. I have had a young university student working in my riding office for two weeks.
This Université Laval student is doing a great job, and her work is related to her field of study. She is gaining experience while lending us a hand.
As my colleagues all know, the pandemic is creating a lot of work for our riding offices, what with workers not receiving their EI benefits, companies seeking to apply for various measures and families wanting to know how we can help them out. Naturally, there are also all the usual situations that individuals such as immigrant workers and foreign workers may be going through. Since we have a lot of work on our hands, we are happy to have this student's help.
This brings me back to what I was saying. Why did the government put the cart before the horse?
The first thing we can offer a student is a job. The first assistance the government should offer is support for hiring students. There are plenty of companies in Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis that are interested in hiring students.
Day camps are one example. We know that public health guidelines mean day camps will have to hire more counsellors. We also know they will have to implement special measures to clean equipment. They will have to adapt their practices, and they will need much more space. They will need more counsellors, more space, and more young people to clean and disinfect equipment. They will need more staff. There will not necessarily be more children. In fact, ratios will go down as costs go up.
Day camps need a helping hand. They need a government program that has been around for years. They need Canada summer jobs, a fantastic program that works well.
In my riding this year, we can barely handle half the applications. We have received almost 300 applications, but our budget will cover only 150. Unfortunately, the government was in a hurry to broaden certain criteria and, as a result, we are able to support fewer positions.
There is a pandemic. Our businesses need staff. The government has a program that can help businesses hire young people. However, rather than invest more money in a program that puts our young people to work, the government changed the program in such a way that fewer of them can work. That is a problem.
Some young people did apply. At this very moment, businesses are waiting to find out whether they will get any federal funds. At the same time, the federal government also brought in the Canada emergency student benefit. This sends a message to young people that, if they do not find work, there is a tool that can bail them out. Young people are not applying because jobs are not yet available and because they are getting the Canada emergency student benefit.
Instead of introducing incentives to encourage our young people to work, the government brings in a program that does the opposite. This will be a significant factor in our economic recovery and it will be very important to how we do now, in the summer. After enduring these really tough few months, businesses need some help, because customers might not be so quick to return once things open up. This new reality is also leading to additional expenses.
The role of the opposition and of Parliament is to make sure the government does things properly and in the right order. In this case, I think more money needs to be invested in the Canada summer jobs program.
Where can a parliamentarian engage with another parliamentarian? Where can he have the public's attention to raise awareness about these issues instead of having an individual come down some stairs to hand out billions of dollars without any real sense of how it will be used?
That is the role of Parliament. That is why we are asking that Parliament be restored to its full capacity to the extent that public health rules allow. We want Parliament to play its role in the interest of Canadians and the government, since we are here to improve its policies.