Madam Speaker, I would love the opportunity to see members from within that leadership change their attitudes, especially at the time in which we find ourselves today. People are experiencing, in all regions of our country, a wide variety of different types of hardships stemming from the pandemic. At a time in which communities throughout our country want us to be focusing on how we can improve the conditions, the Conservatives continue to be focused on their original objectives after losing the election back in 2015. They often suggest I should move on and maybe not even mention Stephen Harper. I would suggest that they need to move on. They need to realize that it is the Conservative Party, in part, that needs to change the channel and start getting on with what is taking place in our communities. Those hardships are very real.
One member across the way heckled that we caused it. I think it is a stretch to try to tell the world it was the Government of Canada that caused the pandemic. It kind of shows the silliness of the Conservative Party. We, from virtually nothing, created programs that literally put hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of Canadians at a time when they needed it.
Members can imagine, through the pandemic, finding oneself unemployed as a direct result of having to stay safe, as companies had to shut down or close doors temporarily and in some cases, unfortunately, permanently. The CERB program has assisted well over eight million, and I believe it is close to nine million, Canadians. The wage subsidy program has saved tens of thousands of jobs in all regions of our country. These are programs that have had a huge positive impact on our communities. Without them, our communities and our society would have been damaged in a more significant fashion, which would have ultimately caused our economy and our way of life to suffer a whole lot more.
The government needed to step up, and not only did the government step up but so did other governments. We came up with the safe restart agreement with the different provinces. Manitoba is one of those provinces. Its premier, Brian Pallister, has written a letter providing thoughts in regard to the restart program. I would like to quote a couple of items from the letter, because I think it emphasizes the important role that Ottawa and our provinces play, and we need to work together.
This is a direct quote from the Premier of Manitoba, making reference to the safe restart agreement: “This federal funding will help support work already undertaken by the Government of Manitoba to increase daily testing capacity from a baseline of 1,000 tests to more than 3,000 tests per day.”
It goes on to say:
The Government of Canada will provide $700 million to support health care system capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19. A further $500 million will address immediate needs and gaps in the support and protection of people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance use, or homelessness. This investment will help to keep Canadians safe and healthy with the health care supports they need.
Through the co-operation and the recognition of the seriousness of the pandemic, we have cities, provinces, our national government and so many others that have come to the table, recognizing how important it is that we collectively remain focused on this second wave. That is what the bill actually deals with: how we can carry forward the types of supports that are critical to Canadians. That is why a number of my colleagues got fairly upset today when the Conservatives tried unsuccessfully to change the debate this morning to something that had nothing to do with the second wave of COVID-19.
While the members across the way continue to talk about the process for dealing with the legislation to ultimately see it pass so that we can continue that support, I would encourage them to leave the Conservative spin to the side and focus on what they believe their constituents would want them to say in the House in terms of the programs that are absolutely critical in order to be able to get Canada as a nation through this second wave. We can accomplish so much more if we do what the Prime Minister is asking us to do, which is to work together at protecting the health and well-being of Canadians while, at the same time, supporting our economy where we can.
A lot more needs to be done. The message that I want to leave those who are following the debate or Canadians as a whole is that the Government of Canada will continue to be there for Canadians until we have permanently resolved the issue of this pandemic.