Madam Chair, I will be using my time to make a five-minute statement today and splitting it with the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola and the member for Regina—Lewvan.
It's an honour to be back in the House representing my Kildonan—St. Paul constituents on the very last day of the parliamentary session. Although the Liberal government has decided to shut down Parliament during the worst crisis Canadians have faced in living memory, I will do my best to speak and advocate on their behalf with the little time we have remaining.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has only allowed parliamentarians four hours to debate and approve $87 billion in spending, or roughly $362 million every minute, which may be a record in the history of the Canadian Parliament.
If the member opposite were listening, he might learn something.
This is truly unprecedented. The very purpose of Parliament is to provide checks and balances on government power. If we do not have the opportunity to question the government. to study emerging issues at committee, or to put forward alternative solutions, how are we supposed to do our job and be that check on power if we are not sitting?
In effect, the government is telling Canadians that they have nothing to worry about, but that they just to trust the government, that there is no need for Parliament to meet or to provide oversight on the massive spending that's been going on for three months. Unfortunately, between the Liberals power grabs and long history of ethics violations, to say that opposition parties are skeptical would be an understatement. In fact, there has not been this great a need for parliamentary oversight since the Second World War.
The last few months have not been easy for anyone. Some have been far more severely impacted than others. Thus far, three million people have lost their jobs and 13% of the working population remains unemployed. We know that women have been impacted to a greater degree than men and that rates of human trafficking and spousal abuse have reportedly gone up. Eight thousand people have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the well-being of countless others has been impacted from the thousands of delayed surgeries and the severe mental health impacts that isolation has had on the nation.
To be a member of Parliament during this unprecedented time has been an unforgettable experience with many challenges and difficult days. Speaking with hundreds of constituents and small businesses in my community who have been deeply and negatively impacted by the pandemic has been very heartbreaking, but they will not be forgotten by the Conservative team. We are all working tirelessly on their behalf and we will represent every Canadian left behind by the government's inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The possibility of a second wave of the pandemic is of great concern to me and the constituents of Kildonan—St. Paul, and the Liberal government, frankly, has provided very little to Canadians to give them confidence that we will be prepared and financially equipped to handle a second wave, since we barely made it through the first one. We are seeing this first-hand in the Prime Minister's refusal to provide an economic and fiscal update during this sitting, despite the Parliamentary Budget Officer's call for one.
It is critical that Canadians know whether we have any financial flexibility to extend programs before they are indeed extended. That is key. Otherwise, we are just guessing and hoping that it will all work out and that the country does not go bankrupt, which is really not a great strategy.
As one of 338 MPs and one of only 121 official opposition MPs in Canada, I ask the Liberal government with all sincerity to use its three-month hiatus from oversight and accountability to prepare tirelessly for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: to prepare PPE, testing, contact tracing capacity, and whatever is necessary to give Canadians the confidence that the government can actually do this job. Beyond that, it needs to acknowledge that Canadian small businesses and the millions of Canadian workers they employ cannot afford to go back into isolation, neither financially nor for their mental health. Moreover, neither can the taxpayer afford to subsidize the pandemic response effort of nearly $100 billion per month without serious tax increases and financial consequences at the family kitchen table.
The Liberal government has the responsibility to present a plan and to communicate it effectively to Canadians, so they can prepare in the coming months. Canadians deserve answers on how prepared we are and what the financial outlook for Canada is, so I implore the government to be transparent, honest and accountable. It is its duty to Canadians.
To conclude, I sincerely thank the front-line workers in every industry in Kildonan—St. Paul, from health care workers to grocery store clerks and gas station attendants, for quickly adapting to the first wave of this pandemic and and physical distancing requirements, and even organizations that, despite being forced to drastically change their daily routines, rose to the occasion in service of our community. Churches, gurdwaras, synagogues, elder care homes, grocery stores, schools and hundreds of small businesses in Kildonan—St. Paul rallied with a true Canadian spirit of resilience and innovation to get the community through the first wave of the pandemic.
That honestly gives me real hope for the second wave and whatever comes after that. I do believe we will get through this together.