Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today as a member of the Bloc Québécois and from Manicouagan, but also as my party's critic for families, children and social development.
Let me begin by thanking my colleague, the hon. member for Edmonton Riverbend, for his work on Bill C-220 and for introducing it. It is a simple bill, but it is a good example of how we are unable to dissociate our personal life from our public life and, in our case, the work that we do in the House. I remember hearing my colleague talk in the House about what was behind his bill and I heard him speak with dignity, compassion and conviction.
I must say that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of the principle, or the very essence, of the bill. Ideological positions aside, at the end of the day, we are all connected as human beings. Our party supports the principle of the bill because it has always been important, and, for our political party, necessary, to allow workers to maintain a good employment relationship. This is so that workers do not fall prey to what I will refer to as the false dilemma of having to choose between a tragic situation, such as caring for a loved one at the end of their life, or losing their job. There is a need there and this bill addresses it.
This reminds me of another bill that illustrates the Bloc Québécois's position. This morning, my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît introduced Bill C-265, referred to as the Émilie Sansfaçon act, which would increase to 50 the number of weeks for which employment insurance may be paid in the event of a serious illness. This is about compassion and support for people who are ill, but it is also about supporting the caregivers and people who are supporting loved ones at the end of their lives. These values are important to the Bloc Québécois.
When we are going through a crisis in our life and we need to fight or to have all our strength, we do not want anything to undermine that strength or the help that we need. However, that could happen if the situation has made both us and the person who wants to help us vulnerable. At the risk of repeating myself, I think it is very important to say that this bill helps both those who are sick and their caregivers.
I will not get into the technical details of the bill because my colleagues, including the member for Shefford, did that earlier. Instead, I would like to come back to the very notion of caregiver. I was saying earlier that it is impossible to keep our public lives completely separate from our personal lives. I am the mother of three children, including a three-year-old boy who was born when I was here serving as an MP during the previous Parliament, although he was not born in the House. I am currently his caregiver.
Often we do not even realize that we are being caregivers. Most people do not know or believe that they are caregivers, even though they fit the description. They just think it is part of their role. As human beings, we take care of one another, but we do not realize at what point we go beyond what is considered “regular”, a word I do not really like, or “normal”, another word I do not like—in other words a kind of “average” of what we do and accomplish.
I will give a definition for caregiver, which is not my own but that of the Regroupement des aidants naturels du Québec. A caregiver is someone whose goal is to help a sick, injured or ageing person recover or to provide support at the end of life, if need be. The caregiver also seeks to maintain and improve the quality of life of the person under care whenever possible, and to help ensure a satisfactory end of life in accordance with the wishes of the person under care.
It is a very important role, and it covers so much. For example, when a person is at the end of life, we think about their physical needs, but they have other needs too. They have emotional needs. Caregivers support them. They provide health care, often in addition to what our health care systems do.
Caregivers support those who need care either occasionally or continuously, for varying periods of time, under changing circumstances they have no control over. Caregivers do not realize when it starts, and they do not know when it will end. They have a very important role to play. At home or in residences, caregivers are all around us; they are part of our families.
I think this kind of bill affects society as a whole. I shared my situation, and as I said, as parents, we are also caregivers to our own children.
I would like to share some statistics. I will go over them quickly, but it is important to mention them. These numbers are striking, and behind these numbers there are people. The Government of Canada's figures are not all up to date, but according to Quebec's statistics institute, in 2012, a quarter of the population over the age of 15 were caregivers. That is 25% of the population in 2012, and now it is 2021. In short, that is huge, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. As I said earlier, sometimes people do not even feel like they are a caregiver, so when they are responding to a survey, they might not even consider themselves part of this category. That means this would be just a glimpse of the proportion of the population of Quebec and Canada that are caregivers.
Mr. Speaker, do I have any time left?