Speaking of trust, Madam Speaker, I just want to start by telling my colleagues that the Bloc Québécois is who Quebeckers trust. Fortunately, we are here to talk about the content of the bill, so that is what I am going to do, because the Bloc Québécois works for everyone.
Of course, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill C-14 because it contains some positive measures. Among other things, it amends the Children’s Special Allowances Act to allow for a one-time increase, which seems like a good thing to us. The bill also makes adjustments to the Canada emergency rent subsidy to make an expense payable a qualifying rent expense, which is also a good thing.
However, there are still pieces missing. The Liberal Party should have paid more attention to the opposition's constructive suggestions. We have been proposing for a long time that assistance be provided to property owners, something that is still missing from the bill.
We also think that interest relief for students is a good idea. It makes sense to help students. However, Quebec has its own program, so we expect to receive equivalent compensation.
The bill amends the Food and Drugs Act to essentially facilitate the importation, development and approval of vaccines during research phases. We think that is good.
Something important is missing, however. There is no amendment to the Patent Act and nothing to facilitate domestic vaccine development. We all know that, unfortunately, it is too late to develop a vaccine domestically this time around, but we can look to the future and learn from the appalling mistakes that are still being made. Look at what happened with Dr. Gary Kobinger of Université Laval, who developed a vaccine very quickly with the first $1 million the government gave him. His request for an additional $2 million was turned down. In response, the Prime Minister had the nerve to say that he did get help with that first $1 million.
At some point, we have to see these projects through and we have to trust our people. Does the government not want to see any initiatives or a sense of pride in Quebec? Would it rather that we remain dependent on foreign countries? Would things not be better if we could stand on our own two feet in this area? The answer is pretty obvious. The Premier of Quebec thinks the project makes sense and decided to fund it, even though it is not up to him to do so. The federal government should be taking care of its affairs and properly funding projects under its jurisdiction, instead of interfering in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec.
Extending the regional relief and recovery fund is another positive step. However, less than 25% of the funding will be awarded to tourism businesses. I will talk about that in a minute.
As far as health is concerned, there are plans for additional payments, including for long-term care. We know what Quebec needs and it is not a one-time additional payment. Quebec needs ongoing payments, health transfers.
The amounts borrowed and the financial forecasts are starting to be worrisome. The Parliamentary Budget Officer shared his concerns about the Minister of Finance having a massive capacity to borrow even more money. We have questions about the $100 billion for the recovery. We still do not know who will get this money and how they will get it. We have no information about that.
The Bloc Québécois has some ideas about the recovery. I invite people in the Liberal Party to look at our little blue document, drafted in the fall, that outlines our party's COVID-19 recovery plan. During the summer, we spoke with real people on the ground, taking all necessary precautions, of course. It is important to mention that the needs are real. The recovery will be a promising opportunity to solve some long-standing problems.
One specific example is the pyrrhotite crisis in the Mauricie region. Just before Christmas, the Government of Quebec announced two new measures to help pyrrhotite victims, in response to the findings of a working group made up of representatives from the Government of Quebec and from the federal minister's office. The federal government was not part of that announcement. I hope that the recovery plan will allocate funding for programs like this one to address the long-standing issues from which people are suffering.
More than two months ago the government announced a highly affected sectors credit availability program. Once again, we cannot get any details. It is unbelievable. People in the tourism, hospitality, arts, culture and events sectors need assistance and are asking us questions. We do not have any answers for them, since we cannot get answers from the government. We are prepared to work together. I am reaching out, I am open to working together, but the government needs to help us if it wants our help. Let us work quickly.
We raise case-by-case needs in the House, such as the local outfitter that could not access the wage subsidy because its facilities were flooded in 2019. I talked about that case in the House and worked with the Minister of Finance's office, but all the nice things that were said in the House and the positive reception did not amount to much in the end. Campground and sugar shack owners still do not have access to the subsidy either, and their industry is going through very tough times.
Nothing has been done for the aerospace industry yet. Is the government bent on destroying this industry? Does it realize that Montreal is one of the only places in the world where an aircraft can be built from start to finish? Is the government trying to dismantle this sector as it did with the pharmaceutical industry, making us even more dependent on other countries?
I have talked about independence in my speech. If Quebec were free to manage its own affairs, it would do so more efficiently. At the moment, by doing nothing, the federal government is hurting everyone in the aviation sector. The feds still have not forced airlines to refund plane tickets for trips that people had paid for in good faith. Now those people's savings are being used to finance multinational companies in the form of interest-free loans. The federal government is also not providing any assistance to the aerospace industry, even though it really needs helps. There is something wrong with this picture.
I want to come back to health transfers. The federal government was originally funding 50% of health care costs, but now it funds only 22%. It is absolutely ridiculous. In the 2020 fall economic statement, the government announced nearly $1 billion for long-term care homes, on condition that those facilities provide detailed spending plans. That is out of the question. Health is a provincial jurisdiction. The federal government needs to sign the cheque and send it off to Quebec City, and it is up to Quebec and the provinces to manage it, whether the centralist New Democrats and Liberals like it or not. I urge my colleagues to read the constitutional contract that was signed without Quebec.
On the topic of long-term care homes, I want to come back to the Canadian Armed Forces report, which was very clear. Everything should have gone well, but the problem was that the institutions could not comply with the standards in effect because of a lack of staff, resources and money. The solution in this case would be to increase health transfers. I do not know how many times we will have to repeat this. People in the hardest-hit sectors need help quickly. As I mentioned, the federal government does not have the right to impose conditions, and the military's report on long-term care homes is clear.
I will now speak about the tourism industry. I would like the government to understand the importance of this industry. It employs 400,000 workers and contributes $15 billion to Quebec's economy. This industry needs help, and the government must get going. Changes need to be made. Earlier I spoke about commercial rent relief, but there is also the Canada emergency business account. We have already raised the case of farmers who incurred expenses in the fall of 2019 but are not eligible for this emergency account. We have been telling the government for months that it makes no sense, but nothing has been done yet. In my view, that is not right.
Speaking of agriculture, I want to talk about a number of issues, including the compensation arising from the signing of new trade agreements. In a time of pandemic and crisis, businesses need cash flow. It would really help them. Why have dairy farmers had to resort to taking out newspaper ads to beg for the money they were promised? I just saw one earlier in The Record, a Sherbrooke newspaper, saying that dairy farmers are essential and that the government made them promises.
Horticultural producers are calling for bankruptcy protection. This would not cost the government anything, but it is turning a deaf ear. Farm businesses need cash, and the quick and easy solution would be to inject 5% into the AgriInvest program without requiring matching contributions and without needing to create a new program, but the government is turning a deaf ear. The emergency processing fund for the agri-food industry was too small and had very specific criteria. As a result, some businesses made investments but ended up not qualifying for reimbursement.
The government is failing those businesses, and it needs to get moving on these files. In closing, I would like to remind members that the Bloc Québécois is still calling for the creation of a committee that would examine COVID-19-related spending. We all remember the WE Charity scandal. We all want to help people, but we just want to make sure that the money is helping ordinary people, not friends of the government.