Madam Speaker, we are two years into the pandemic, almost two years into public health measures and lockdowns. Canadians have been taking it on the chin for two years. Travel is virtually impossible. Small businesses have had to close their doors. Restaurants have opened, closed, opened and closed their doors. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians suddenly found themselves jobless.
Everything is more expensive now: gas, groceries, restaurants. Many people are having trouble making ends meet. The pandemic has affected Canadians' mental health too. Times are tough. Some people did not get through it. Seniors, certainly among the most vulnerable, were isolated, kept apart from their family, their kids, their grandkids and their great-grandkids. Despite all that, despite the sacrifices that were asked of them, Canadians stepped up.
I am proud of the people of Mégantic-L'Érable, Quebec and Canada. Faced with the threat of a disease that was unknown in March 2020, we heeded public health advice. We stayed home. We physically distanced. Everyone did what had to be done in an effort to get rid of COVID‑19, protect ourselves and protect our loved ones and everyone around us.
Frontline workers stood firm and faced COVID-19 head on, while most of us were afraid of this new, unknown virus. They took care of people who were sick. Others stayed on the job to ensure a steady supply of food, water and essential services, so everyone else could get on with their lives without fully understanding what was going on.
However, the pandemic has changed. The situation we are in today is very different from that of March 2020. We knew nothing about the virus two years ago. There was no treatment. There was no vaccine. We did not know how to detect the disease. We used to fear it, but that is not the case today. Many of us have had COVID-19 by this point. I have had it. My children have had it. Many of my colleagues have had it. Many Canadians have had COVID-19.
Dr. Boileau, who is with Quebec public health, estimated yesterday that 2 million Quebeckers have been infected with COVID-19 in the fifth wave brought on by omicron, and that nearly half of Quebeckers have had COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Still, the overwhelming majority of Canadians have stepped up to follow the chief recommendation made by public health officials to end COVID-19. First, we had one dose of vaccine, then two, then three, and officials are even thinking of offering a fourth dose to the most vulnerable. Over 80% of Canadians have had at least one dose and 86% have received a second dose. We were promised a return to normal life, but unfortunately, the virus is both stronger and weaker at the same time: more contagious, but less dangerous.
The virus is still contagious, even to people who are vaccinated, but vaccinated people are less likely to become seriously ill or have complications. The virus has changed. We have changed. Provincial health measures are beginning to be lifted, but unfortunately, the federal government is not changing its position.
I rise today to support our Conservative motion to lift all federal mandates and restrictions for Canadians. The Conservatives think that it is time to follow the science, the evidence and the experts. We think that the government needs to present a plan to quickly lift all restrictions and all vaccine mandates.
Other countries are doing it. This Liberal government must also do this immediately. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister used the pandemic to divide and stigmatize Canadians. That has to stop now. As parliamentarians we must stand united. We must work together to help our society learn to live with COVID‑19 as soon as possible with the tools and knowledge we have today.
I want to address Canadians once again, as my leader addressed all these Canadians who are protesting here in Ottawa, in Ontario and across the country. These protests started with truckers and have now become an international phenomenon. Men, women, children, young people, the not-so-young from all walks of life and all different communities in the country have come together to be heard. They want life to go back to normal. To all those taking part in the protests, we believe it is time to tear down the barricades and stop engaging in disruptive behaviour. It is time for us to come together again as Canadians.
The days of division and stigmatization are over.
The economy that the protesters want to reopen is hurting. People are protesting because they love this country and want their country back. The protesters here in Ottawa came bringing a message. That message has been heard. The Conservatives have heard the protesters and will stand up for them and for all Canadians who want get back to life as we knew it. We assure them that we will not stop until the lockdowns and vaccine mandates have ended.
Today, we are asking the government to present a plan. We are also asking protesters to immediately remove all the barricades and to protest peacefully and legally. It is time to remove the barricades and trucks for the sake of our economy. That is what must be done.
I would like to repeat what our leader said. As parliamentarians, all of us in this place have a role to play to end this impasse, restore peace and order and, at the same time, allow Canadians to get back to their normal lives. We have faith in science and evidence and in our fellow Canadians. Let us have faith that we will protect ourselves. Let us have faith that we will do so in a way that we feel is appropriate, not in the way the government tells us, without any change since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Leader of the Opposition sent a letter to the Prime Minister this week requesting a meeting to discuss how this dire situation we are in can be resolved peacefully, a situation that developed as a result of the Prime Minister's regrettably misguided comments.
In writing her letter, the leader of the official opposition is calling for the Prime Minister to co-operate, collaborate and work together and for all party leaders to meet and discuss how to get through this crisis and come up with a plan to get back to normal.
There has been no response, not a peep, from the Prime Minister. We have not seen a single sign that he is willing to work with parliamentarians to find a solution to this impasse. The problem will not go away. I hope that the Prime Minister will agree to work together with all party leaders in the House and will respond to the letter from the Leader of the Opposition to try to find a solution to this urgent problem.
It is time for the Prime Minister to show leadership. Ever since the pandemic started, he has been slow to acknowledge the pandemic, to close borders, to sign agreements for vaccines and rapid tests and to respond to the fifth wave. Now, he is once again slow to adapt to the new reality of the virus.
The Liberal government is the only level of government in the country that is refusing to give Canadians any hope. The Liberal government is the only one not recognizing Canadians' efforts and sacrifices of the past two years. The Prime Minister is the only one, out of all the governments in Canada, without a plan to learn to live with the virus despite his own scientists' recommendations.
The Prime Minister has no plan to get us out of this crisis. On the contrary, he is contemplating even more restrictions. This has to stop now, as do the blockades and demonstrations. The message has been heard. The opposition leader is asking the Prime Minister to meet with all party leaders so we can find solutions.
We are asking all the other parties, even the Liberals, to support today's motion calling on the government to present a plan to the House and all Canadians by the end of February. As the opposition leader said, the sooner, the better. We will support it because we all want out of this situation.