Madam Speaker, so much fuss for so little return. Parliament was shut down a month ago in the midst of a serious pandemic. Now we are probably at the start of the second wave. When Parliament was shut down, the government said there would be a throne speech. We were expecting clear measures, unambiguous ideas and concrete solutions to the current situation.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister delivered an address to the nation. People were calling us, wanting to know what he was going to announce. This was an extraordinary situation. We were on tenterhooks, expecting something big. Unfortunately, the Speech from the Throne is a hodgepodge of ideas that we have heard many times before. It is a rehash of last year's throne speech. These are empty ideas, not solutions. People may say that it is greener. The greenest thing about it is all the old ideas they recycled.
Apart from that, apart from a huge, perhaps historic, intrusion into provincial jurisdictions by the federal government, there is nothing noteworthy. After listening to the Prime Minister's address to the nation, I thought, what a joke. Was that all? He told us to wash our hands, wear a mask and use the COVID Alert app, and said that the government would take on debt instead of Canadians. There was nothing new. It was really a one-man show. What a joke.
I was wondering why he went to all the trouble, and then I realized. We know how magicians make things disappear. They create a diversion. They distract us and then use sleight of hand. That is what this government is trying to do. It is using the throne speech and address to the nation to create a diversion and try to hide something. It pretends it is being serious and taking the bull by the horns.
He wants to make the WE scandal disappear into thin air. This whole charade was designed to get the Prime Minister out of the mess he has been in for the past month over WE Charity. He was up to his neck in this scandal. It was the worst scandal his government had gone through, and there were plenty. Four committees were studying the matter. The Minister of Finance resigned, which is a big deal. The Prime Minister is facing his third probe by the Ethics Commissioner. He is rewriting the Guinness Book of World Records. He is the Wayne Gretzky of ethics violations. All this to hush up the scandal. The government should not expect to get off lightly, because the Bloc Québécois intends to keep the ball rolling. We are going to keep a close eye on what is happening with the WE scandal.
People are asking us what the solution is. It is very simple. This address to the nation and the throne speech should have been about the public health crisis and the health care systems that have been affected by this unprecedented crisis. The solution came from the provincial premiers and the Government of Quebec. It is simple. The solution is to put money into health care. That is all there is to it. That is all the provinces want. They must get help to pay for health care.
The Prime Minister says he has met with them 20 times, but he is not listening to them. He met with them 20 times and every time the ministers told him the same thing, but he is not listening. He could meet with them 100 times, and it would not matter. He is not listening to Canada's health care experts, the people in charge of safeguarding the health of Quebeckers and Canadians.
Earlier, the Prime Minister spoke about blank cheques. He just does not get it. The Canadian Constitution clearly states that health care falls under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. It says so in black and white. To help the provinces and Quebec provide proper funding for health care, the federal government needs to contribute.
The federal government is saying that it will not give out any blank cheques, but it is not the government's money. The Prime Minister needs to understand that. It is not his money. It is taxpayers' money.
Quebec taxpayers pay taxes and give the federal government a blank cheque. They give the federal government that money, but in return they expect to receive services from the federal government. Quebec taxpayers expect to receive quality health care after paying those taxes. After putting money in its own pockets, this government is meddling in things that are none of its concern, acting like an armchair quarterback and saying that the provinces need to do this or that, when it knows nothing about what needs to be done.
The federal government was supposed to provide 50% of the funding, but that was cut to 33% and then 25%. In the early 2010s, the Conservatives had a great idea. They said that they were going to put a 3% cap on increases to health care transfers. It was their idea.
The 2013 Thomson report was clear. Maintaining health care spending, including in Quebec, requires an annual funding increase of 5.6%. It does not take a PhD in math to understand that when costs increase by 5.6% annually and the federal government only allocates 3% more in its budget, the remaining 2.6% is on the wrong side of the balance sheet. That is obvious.
Last week, the premiers of Quebec and the provinces stated that, based on their calculations, they need an additional $28 billion for health care. Once again, the federal government refused and said it was not going to write a blank cheque.
Ironically, this government tries to interfere in the jurisdiction of the provinces and Quebec, but it cannot manage its own affairs properly.
The rail crisis was a federal matter, yet for 20 days, the government stated that it would not do anything and that it was up to the provinces and Quebec to take care of it. It is actually a federal matter. The government needs to do its job. It went out of its way to do nothing. That is unbelievable. I call that compulsive passive resistance.
Then the pandemic began. Since the virus came from overseas, the Prime Minister was advised to close the borders. It was only logical. That was his job. That is what he is there for, among other things, but he said that he would not close the borders. It took the mayor of Montreal going to Dorval and saying that enough is enough. The mayor did what the Prime Minister was supposed to do. The government is not looking after its own affairs.
Foreign workers who arrived here were meant to be put in quarantine, and the federal government was supposed the manage the situation. It failed to do that. It does not take care of its own affairs, but it pretends it is king and says it will manage areas under provincial jurisdiction. It needs to mind its own business. That is what Quebeckers want, for this government to mind its own business.
With regard to hospital staff, nurses are doing an amazing job. They have been performing miracles for years. As a result of increased chronic underfunding by this government, and by the federal government in general, they are being called upon to make more and more miracles happen. They are being left to fend for themselves. Orderlies are having to take on more and more work. Burnout is ever present. Instead of saying that it is going to help them, give them money, support them, give them resources and not let them down, what is the government doing? It is telling them how to do their jobs and refusing to provide more help. That is what the government said in the throne speech. It makes no sense.
The government saw the throne speech as an opportunity to interfere in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, including long-term care facilities, home care, family doctors, virtual health care, mental health resources, pharmacare, training for workers, and child care. These things are none of the federal government's business.
What exactly is the federal government's business? Taxpayers' money. The federal government should take that money and give it back to the government responsible for providing these services to taxpayers, be that in Quebec City or Ottawa. That is precisely how the Canadian federation works. I did not make that up or make the rules. The Liberals are the ones not following the rules.
There is some good news, sort of. It is not entirely good news though. It never is.
Helping seniors is a good thing. For the past year, we have been talking about how seniors are in a precarious financial situation, and the crisis caused by the pandemic has made things even worse. These seniors are isolated and sick, and, sadly, many of them have died. We asked the government to help them, but the government decided to help only those over 75. We do not understand that kind of logic. Do they think nothing happens to people between the ages of 65 and 75? Do they think those people live a charmed life? Why create two classes of seniors?
The government is going to help certain industries that are struggling, including the travel, tourism and culture sectors. That is great. However, the throne speech included nothing for the aerospace industry, even though it accounts for 43,000 direct and indirect jobs in Quebec and is its largest export. This sector was hit hard by the pandemic, and yet the throne speech offers no solutions.
The government has promised to create a million jobs. This is the usual smoke and mirrors from the Liberal Party, which seems to like round numbers. It says it is going to create a million jobs, but we have no idea how.
The Liberal Party has already promised to plant two billion trees. People were impressed and wondered how the government would do that. The government would only reply that it was going to plant those trees, but now, one year later, not one tree has been planted.
The Liberals promised that Canada would reach net zero by 2050. People were impressed. They wondered what the Liberals' secret was and asked them how they were going to do it. The Liberals have no idea. This is a joke. It is all smoke and mirrors.
The government says it will create one million jobs. It may want to start by protecting aerospace jobs that are so important for Quebec. These are good jobs that benefit all of Quebec and its exports. It is not complicated. It is what needs to be done. Again, however, this government pouts and does not want to deal with the economy in a smart way, when all it would take is an aerospace policy. In Canada and Quebec, we are the only country that does not help its aerospace industry in a structured way. In Quebec, we are capable of building a plane from stem to stern. It is a source of pride. We do that in spite of the federal government and the fact that half of our taxes do not come back to us in a smart way.
The government said it would make web giants contribute. That is good news. It is interesting. Yet, the government does not mention tax havens because the Liberals are spineless. I know some Liberal members and I like them. I have not spoken at length with them about it, but I know that they would say that tax havens do not make sense. Why then are the Liberals not taking action? Which friends do they want to protect by standing by while everyone has been urging them to take action on this issue over the years? These tax havens represent billions of dollars in lost taxes.
The government has extended the Canada emergency wage subsidy. The Liberals know that it is a good measure because they used it for six months and made $800,000. They tested the subsidy and found that it worked for them. They thought it was great and decided to keep it in place.
The government is talking about a green recovery. Fine, but since we are on the subject, I would have liked the speech to nix the Trans Mountain expansion. Many economists and academics, even some from western Canada, are saying that this project is not viable, that it will not make money and that investing $12 billion in it is unthinkable. The message was crystal clear, we have heard it over and over, and it became glaringly obvious two weeks ago. The writing was on the wall. There throne speech should have made a definitive statement about it, but it was not even mentioned.
The government's environmental whims are shorter-lived than a balloon at a porcupine party. They come and go. That is a fact.
The government sacrificed the future of farmers and milk quotas, for example, for the sake of more international agreements. The government sacrificed these things for the sake of globalization, and farmers lost billions of dollars. They were promised again and again that they would get compensation and that the money was there. It was there in last year's throne speech. What happened since then? Nothing. What is happening now? Still nothing.
This sends a message to farmers. The government is putting their finances in jeopardy because it cannot negotiate sensible agreements with other countries. As a result, the government cannot and will not help them. Farmers are told that they will get help, but they will not. That is typical of the Government of Canada.
In conclusion, there is very little in the throne speech to satisfy the Bloc Québécois. If the government wants our support for the throne speech, it will have to produce an agreement to increase health transfers by next week. That is what Quebeckers are asking for. That is what Quebec's health care system needs. That is what the Bloc Québécois wants.
I would like to table, seconded by the hon. member for Salaberry—Surroît, an amendment to the amendment:
That the amendment be modified by adding, after the fourth paragraph, the following:
“We regret that your government did not respond to the unanimous call from the Premier of Quebec, and provincial and territorial premiers for an unconditional increase to the Canada Health Transfer so it represents 35% of health care costs in Quebec, the provinces and territories;
We also regret that your government is creating two classes of seniors by proposing to increase old age security only for people aged 75 and over;
We regret that your government is violating constitutional jurisdiction by not allowing Quebec and the provinces to opt out, with full compensation, of federal programs in areas under their jurisdiction;”.