Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to talk about the issues and priorities that matter to Quebeckers.
The bill we are debating this evening is a unique one, given that it has to do with changing the name of a riding. I sympathize with the idea and think the new name is quite lovely. “Les Jardins-de-Napierville” has a nice ring to it.
However, as other members have mentioned, the problem is with the decision to prioritize this issue over other challenges faced by families, workers, seniors and students in our communities.
Time in the House is limited, and this time is a precious commodity used for advancing issues that are important to the people we represent, our constituents. I am sure that the people of what is currently known as the riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle are very happy about this initiative and will be happy with the new name, but we are spending a lot of time to change a name that could have been changed through other means, for example, through the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
There are many people who are struggling and suffering right now. There are plenty of challenges that I think deserve, as a matter of priority, the benefit of the House's time and the potential debates between parliamentarians.
I met with representatives of the Unifor union recently, and I would like to talk about a problem that affects a lot of people, namely, offshoring of jobs. It affects several sectors but is particularly prevalent in the telecommunications sector. This is related to something that is very topical and that may even affect people in my Liberal Party colleague's riding. For the first time in its history, the union representing Bell Canada clerical workers has a strike mandate. A total of 4,200 people in Ontario and Quebec are going to engage in a labour dispute, perhaps for the first time, because they are fed up with seeing their jobs sent overseas. A few years ago, this unit had 15,000 clerical workers at Bell Canada. Has there been less work to do at Bell Canada in the last 20 or 25 years? Of course not, but the jobs are being moved to the Philippines, Morocco and Tunisia. These people want to have the means to continue working here in Canada, at home, because it is still necessary.
The most infuriating thing about this is that companies like Bell Canada get federal subsidies to cover part of their development and infrastructure. They owe nothing in exchange, and jobs are being relocated to other countries. I think that this is an issue we as parliamentarians should address and find solutions for.
Unifor has proposed a solution that would not necessarily entail obligations to keep jobs in Canada right away. I personally would be prepared to go there, and I believe the NDP would as well. At the very least, we must demand transparency from companies that receive tax dollars and then send jobs offshore. Transparency would reveal information about which jobs have been offshored and details about contracts and why those jobs did not stay in Canada.
I would like to draw the attention of the House to this possible imminent labour dispute, which could start in about two weeks and will affect thousands of people in Quebec and Ontario. Offshoring jobs is a serious issue that I think deserves our time, as well as solutions and ideas from members of all parties.
As we are speaking of the federal government's role, we could also spend more time talking about the quality of the federal government's services overall. In many respects, quite a few government organizations and departments have become dysfunctional and completely inefficient.
I spoke about this another time, but I want to come back to this subject. There is a woman in my riding who qualified for employment insurance and has been waiting for her cheque since February. It is now June. That is a rather long time. She has been forced to borrow money from friends and family and to rack up debt on her credit card to pay for groceries and rent. These are ineffective strategies. I believe that, as parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to put pressure on a government to provide its services. I am not telling my colleagues anything new. The passport delays right now are absolutely appalling. It is a catastrophe.
People are waiting in line for 24 or even 36 hours. They are becoming frustrated and anxious. It is not simply a matter of saying that they are just travellers and vacationers anyway, so it is no big deal. First of all, they have a right to this service. The government is failing to deliver on time. Second, after two years of the pandemic, many people have saved up enough money to be able to afford a dream vacation for their children and their family abroad. Now they are losing the thousands of dollars they invested in that trip. They are being robbed by a government that cannot meet the demand, when this situation was foreseeable.
I was absolutely astonished to hear the Prime Minister tell us, in response to a question today, that he saw this coming. He obviously did not see it coming, because if he had, he would have prepared for it and put some resources into it. What we are seeing now is horrible. People are shouting at security guards. The rules are chaotic and contradictory, and they differ from one office to another. The police have even had to intervene.
These are all key issues.
The government's failures are affecting the businesses in my Liberal colleague's riding. All the delays at Immigration Canada are causing major problems, whether they have to do with permanent residency applications, work visas, student visas, temporary worker permits or other things. I am sure that there are many family farms in her riding that are unable to keep up because they need these temporary workers. It is taking a long time. We are experiencing a labour shortage and these businesses do not have the means to quickly find workers for the upcoming summer and for the harvest at the end of the summer, in August and September.
The labour shortage is causing major challenges, and the government is unable to make these services essential for economic development, but also out of respect for the people who are waiting for these documents and whose applications are getting lost in a federal bureaucracy that seems rather disorganized these days.
One major issue that I am sure also affects people in the Châteauguay and Napierville region is the housing crisis. Rent prices are ridiculously high. I am very proud of the NDP's negotiation with the minority government. The agreement contains a new definition of affordable housing. Real affordable housing will be built through projects funded by the CMHC. I am very proud of that, and this will make a difference in the future. It will help my constituents and my colleague's constituents as well.
People who are looking to buy their first home or who are wondering whether they will be able to keep their homes, in light of what is going on, also have concerns. We could have used this time today to talk about the solution, about support for homeowners or potential homeowners who have concerns. What are they concerned about? They are concerned about the high likelihood of an interest rate hike.
According to a recent survey, one in four homeowners is genuinely worried that they will have to sell their home if interest rates go up slightly. We are not talking about a 5% increase, but a few percentage points. These interest rates would look like ones we have seen before—