Mr. Speaker, the budget and the implementation bill we are debating today will put a stamp on federal politics for many years. That is why it is crucial that we, as parliamentarians, take the time to analyze this bill and to ask the difficult questions that must be put to the government. It goes without saying that this is not a small bill. That is understandable given the context.
Given the little time at my disposal, my comments will focus on measures contained in divisions 1, 5, 6, 9, 24 and 32.
I hope the government will answer our written questions, as it is in the interest of all Quebeckers and all Canadians for each question to be answered. It is the government's role to obtain the support of the House for its budget and its bill, and it is our role to question it.
Some measures in Bill C-30 are good, such as extending until September 25 critical support programs like the wage subsidy and rent relief. I would remind the House, however, that the Bloc Québécois voted against the budget since the government ignored our two key demands, namely to provide adequate and recurring health funding, which was and still is a demand of Quebec and the other provinces and territories, as well as to increase the old age security pension for seniors 65 and up.
As I was saying, obviously some measures in the budget are good, but when it comes to those two things, the government ignored common sense by offering one-time cosmetic solutions to problems that are much more serious and well documented.
Worse than that, the House of Commons adopted a motion that goes with our demand. I can understand that the government does not want to cave to the Bloc Québécois, but I should remind it that it has to at least consider the will of the people represented by those elected to the House.
I will read a few very clear lines from the motion.
That the House:
...(c) highlight the work of Quebec and the provinces in responding to the health crisis and note the direct impact on their respective budgets; and
(d) call on the government to significantly and sustainably increase Canada health transfers...
Again, the government must significantly and sustainably increase Canada health transfers.
The government needs to get the message we have sent over and over. Health transfers need to go up from 22% to 35%. Unfortunately, Bill C-30 includes just a one-time health transfer increase, which is downright unambitious. As fate would have it, the 2021 budget deficit is precisely $28 billion lower than expected, which is pretty ironic seeing as that is exactly how much Quebec and the provinces are asking for. The government would have us believe its political choice, which will compromise everyone's health, is actually a budget choice.
The government's handling of old age security is also more politically motivated than anything else. The Liberals are creating two classes of seniors: those they can buy and those they cannot.
Let me be clear: I will not object to some seniors receiving the help they need, as outlined in Bill C-30. However, I do object to the Liberals thinking that financial insecurity starts at a specific age, when in fact it is much more the result of retiring and leaving the workforce. Furthermore, what the Liberals are proposing to give is clearly insufficient for vulnerable people, regardless of their age. Sixty-three dollars a month is not even enough to buy a few days' worth of groceries. If the Liberals thought they could change the world with that, they are mistaken.
Also, this measure is a campaign promise that was made two years ago and was clearly thought up before the price increases caused by COVID-19. When it comes into effect, people between the ages of 65 and 74, or half the current recipients, will be very eager to reach their 75th birthday. Unfortunately, they will realize that pensions will not be much more generous than they have been.
In addition, in spite of what the Liberals might say, some of them have tried to deny the truth. One minister said, and I quote:
…contrary to what the Bloc Québécois is suggesting, we chose to give more to the most vulnerable seniors, instead of giving less to a greater number of people.
I am not the best at math, but $63 is less than $110. I want everyone to know and take note that the Bloc Québécois is more generous toward seniors than the Liberals, and it will continue to call for a substantial increase of $110 a month for all seniors, as it has over the past few years.
Another point on which we disagree with the Liberals is about how Bill C-30 lays the foundation for a Canadian securities regulation regime. I do not need to paint a picture. The Bloc Québécois and Quebec are, of course, strongly opposed to that.
It is very simple. Division of Bill C-30 is the realization of a very dear dream of Toronto's financial elite, the dream of stripping Quebec of its financial sector. That would be done at the expense of Quebec and Canadian taxpayers, who would have to hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Bay Street's supremacy in a jurisdiction that has been repeatedly confirmed as provincial.
Everyone in Quebec is against it and is speaking with one voice, which is something that is seldom seen: political parties, business communities, the financial sector, labour-sponsored funds and unions. In addition to the Government of Quebec and the Quebec National Assembly, there is also the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, Finance Montréal, the International Financial Centre corporation, the Desjardins Group, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Air Transat, Transcontinental, Canam, Québecor, Metro, La Capitale, Cogeco, Molson, and the list goes on.
A strong Autorité des marchés financiers in Quebec means thousands of jobs in North America's only French-speaking metropolis. Nearly 150,000 jobs in Quebec depend on it, and $20 billion is generated. This plan would inevitably result in a shift of regulation activities outside Quebec and is an attack on our ability to keep our head offices and preserve our businesses. One would have to be blind and deaf not to see it. Quebeckers can count on the Bloc, for we will do everything in our power to block this bill.
On another note, as many people know, I am the Bloc Québécois critic for international co-operation and the vice-chair of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Accordingly, it is understandable that I am very concerned about division 6 of Bill C-30 dealing with the Sergei Magnitsky Law. Section 7 of that act, which requires banks, insurance companies and loan companies to disclose certain information on a monthly basis, will be amended by Bill C-30 to make that requirement quarterly, which I simply do not understand. I see this as reducing the obligations of financial institutions and a setback for human rights. It does nothing to ensure enforcement or to strengthen monitoring activities, when it is well known that these reports are of paramount importance to the legislation's effectiveness. I hope my hon. colleagues will have some answers on this matter.
I must say that I am quite baffled to see that division 9 of Bill C-30 removes the requirement that the superintendent of financial institutions approve changes to multi-employer pension plans in which the employer's contributions are set out in an agreement with employees. I will refrain from pointing out that the former finance minister probably wishes he had thought of this himself. Jokes aside, what is the reason for lowering the requirements for this specific type of pension plan? Do pension plans of big companies have funding issues? Is the stock market in such bad shape that pension plans are having solvency issues that warrant relaxing the laws? To me, this division of the bill sounds like the government is eliminating an important safeguard that ensures pension plans remain solvent. The government will have to explain this sooner or later.
I am running out of time, but I would be remiss if I did not speak about division 24 of Bill C-30. I commend the fact that the government wishes to give more leave to parents whose child has died or disappeared so they can reorganize their lives and deal with the tragic reality of the death of a child. However, I am disappointed that the government is agreeing to double benefits for these circumstances, but refusing to double EI sickness benefits, a subject that I had the opportunity to speak about two weeks ago.
I cannot oppose extending eligibility of this benefit to parents of a child under the age of 25 who is deceased or has disappeared, and I cannot oppose increasing the maximum length of leave from 52 to 108 weeks. One question remains and it is important that the government clarify it. If parents are separated, are both entitled to these benefits or is it custody that determines eligibility? It is important to know this because parents are separated in a growing number of Quebec and Canadian families.
In closing, the budget mentions and praises the Quebec child care system several times, claiming to be inspired by it. The reference to an asymmetrical agreement with Quebec is a positive sign, but only if this agreement comes with full and unconditional compensation for the total cost of the program's measures. That money could be used to help with the economic recovery or with the health care system, which is still underfunded because of the federal government's laxness. This Canada-wide child care program is another attempt at federal interference and cannot be seen otherwise.