Madam Speaker, I would like to begin this speech by paying tribute to a former mayor of Rouyn‑Noranda, Pierre Grandmaître. He passed away a few days ago, and his funeral will be held on June 20. Although he was mayor almost 25 years ago, we owe to Mr. Grandmaître what are possibly the best things that even today do Rouyn‑Noranda proud and make it such a great place to live. There is the arrival of the Rouyn‑Noranda Huskies, who are still the defending champions of the Memorial Cup for a third year in a row, thanks to COVID. There is also the great bike trail around Lake Osisko, in Rouyn‑Noranda.
I have a little story to share about Mr. Grandmaître. When I was 18, my dream was to run in the municipal election, so my dad suggested I go see his friend, Pierre Grandmaître, to talk about his experience and get some advice. Mr. Grandmaître listened to me and also asked me to join Jean-Claude Beauchemin's team and participate in all the strategic election committees. He was really a major influence on me, and he is the reason I am in the House today. Mr. Grandmaître offered me so much support and guidance. The last time I saw him was during the 2019 election. Pierre Grandmaître was also a former Conservative candidate, but he gave me his support on his way out of the polling station. I was touched, and I will cherish that memory and the memory of his smile for a long time.
Now let us turn to the motion before us.
Once again, Quebec has to defend itself, and once again, the Bloc Québécois has to defend Quebec. The Liberal government's latest budget revealed another example of federal interference in areas under Quebec's jurisdiction, especially over health, even though that falls exclusively within Quebec's jurisdiction.
Today's Motion No. 62 is yet another attempt in the House to establish a federal dental care plan. It must be understood that the Bloc Québécois is not opposed to the idea of establishing such a plan, which would improve the quality of life of many people, including the most vulnerable. What we are opposed to is any form of interference implied in that motion.
The House of Commons should acknowledge the need to respect the democratically expressed will of Quebec and reject the federal government's unfortunate tendency to interfere in the jurisdictions of the Government of Quebec.
Today, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Bloc Québécois, and it is particularly odd that this motion should be proposed today, especially after the debate we had earlier.
How many times must we repeat that health care is a provincial jurisdiction? Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, very clearly define the division of powers between the federal government and provinces. Health is an exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec, with the exception of indigenous health, military hospitals, drug approval, which is the responsibility of Health Canada, and quarantine management.
If the Government of Quebec and the National Assembly ever decide that such a dental care plan is a priority and ask the federal government for funding with no strings attached in order to pay for the plan, the Bloc Québécois would support Quebec in that undertaking.
There would be one dental plan in Quebec and another for the rest of Canada. Why? Simply because Quebec knows what is good for Quebec, and our experience shows that universal programs do not work. It is like child care, where the federal government has proudly held us up as an example, just as it did with pharmacare.
What Quebec wants right now is not a federal dental plan or any other interference. It wants an increase in federal health transfers, with no strings attached. That is what Quebeckers want. For 30 years now, the Bloc Québécois has respected the democratic will of Quebeckers, and we invite the NDP and the entire House to do the same.
Let us take another look at the federal government's last budget. This budget has interference written all over it. Using a highly dubious scheme and all kinds of feel-good theatrics, the budget proposes that the federal government develop criteria and standards for health care. Quebec notes that, in this budget, the federal government wants to establish national standards for the care of seniors in long-term care facilities, national standards for mental health care, national standards for home care, national standards for women's health care and national standards for reproductive health.
Canada needs to realize that Quebec does not want these criteria and standards. It wants the wherewithal to serve its population properly. The federal government has no business telling Quebeckers how to standardize health care. Let the Quebec Ministry of Health and Quebec health experts standardize health care in Quebec.
Furthermore, the federal government's arrogant attitude towards Quebec is nothing new. The federal government has been highly critical of Quebec, especially with respect to the situation in long-term care homes back in March and April 2020. This criticism was misplaced but very indicative of the Prime Minister's intentions to centralize health care powers in Ottawa.
If the Liberal government wants to help Quebec improve the unfortunate situation in long-term care homes, it should step up and fulfill its responsibility to Quebeckers by restoring health transfers to 50% of spending, as set out in the initial agreements signed more than 50 years ago. At the very least, the federal government must restore health transfers to 35%, as the Bloc Québécois, the Quebec National Assembly and all of the provinces have called for.
I remind members that the last time Ottawa stepped up on health care matters and complied with the federal-provincial agreement by covering half of health care expenditures was more than 30 years ago. Now, it is using the unprecedented COVID‑19 pandemic, a critical and unfortunate situation, as an opportunity to push its centralist policy.
At present, Ottawa is covering no more than 20% of health care costs when it should be covering 50% as set out in the initial agreements. Things are not great at Quebec hospitals, and that is also the case for the rest of Canada. That is largely the fault of the federal government, which is playing politics at the expense of the physical and mental health of Quebeckers and Canadians.
Furthermore, we cannot ignore one of the federal government's most blatant centralizing moves in recent years, its attempt to bring the financial sector under federal control by making it responsible for insurance, securities and the distribution of financial goods and services, among other things.
For many years now, the federal government's objective has been to shift regulatory operations from Quebec to Ontario. Having a single Canada-wide securities regulator is a bad idea that should not see the light of day. This is not just a jurisdictional dispute or a squabble between the federal and provincial governments, it is a battle between Bay Street and Quebec. The objective of this Canada-wide securities regulator is another example of the centralization of financial markets by the federal government. It wants Toronto to become a single Canada-wide regulator, which would be contrary to the independent economic development of all the other provinces. I remind members that the Bloc Québécois and Quebec are strongly opposed to the idea.
Four times now, the National Assembly of Quebec has unanimously called on the federal government to give it up. Everyone in Quebec is against it. Every political party, the business community, the financial sector and labour-sponsored funds oppose this plan. The federal government wants to create a financial markets authority like the one that already exists and that is getting good results in Quebec. We have rarely seen the business community in Quebec come together with a single voice to oppose this very bad idea by the federal government, which just wants to cater to Bay Street.
Let the federal government and Bay Street take note: the Bloc Québécois will always stand in the way of creating a single Canada-wide securities regulator. We will always say no, because a strong Quebec securities regulator means a strong talent pool to regulate the finance sector, which is essential for the sector's development.
Montreal is the 13th-largest financial centre in the world. It accounts for 150,000 jobs in Quebec and contributes $20 billion to the GDP, or 6.3%. The Bloc Québécois will always fight to keep the regulation of the finance sector in Quebec. A strong financial hub is vital to the functioning of our head offices and the preservation of our businesses. Keeping the sector's regulator in Quebec ensures that decision-makers are nearby, which in turn enables access to capital markets for businesses, which is essential to support business investment and growth across Quebec.
Creating a single Canada-wide securities regulator is nothing short of an attack on our ability to keep our head offices and preserve the distinct pillars of our economy. The 578 head offices in Quebec represent 50,000 jobs with a salary that is twice as high as the Quebec average, in addition to 20,000 other jobs at specialized service providers such as accounting, legal, financial or computer services.
There are so many examples of the federal government overstepping its jurisdictions that Quebec can claim that its greatest political and economic enemy is within its own borders. I am talking about examples like implementing a universal pharmacare plan like the one in Quebec and creating a child care network like the one in Quebec. Also, Quebec's educational sector is not immune to federal interference, considering the millennium scholarship granted by Jean Chrétien's Liberal government, which was similar to scholarships that already existed in Quebec. The federal government also created an international education strategy to recruit foreign students to Canadian universities that competes with the strategy that already exists in Quebec.
Why duplicate the structures and the efforts? Why not simply encourage the efforts already under way by funding them directly? Why duplicate the administrative burden and red tape to the detriment of Quebeckers? This is also the case in research, where it is more subtle and insidious, given that research reflects the innovation and development of our societies from a practical standpoint.
Basic research has been put aside, is underappreciated and is being neglected. Going forward, the government must focus on society, not on the private interests of companies.
In closing [Technical difficulty—Editor] Motion No. 62, because health care is a provincial and Quebec jurisdiction. Ottawa has no right to dictate what they should do and impose a tax burden—