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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Bloc MP for Saint-Maurice—Champlain (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Department of Social Development Act June 6th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I have been an elected member for quite some time. I was a member in Quebec City and I have been here since the year 2000. It always feels good to hear a statement such as the one the member for Laval has just made. We realize just how much she knows about people's needs. This has been her work, her passion. When I listen to her, I am even more outraged to see the federal government wasting money by encroaching on provincial jurisdictions, when needs within the population are so great.

The member for Laval mentioned a short while ago that there are 7,000 businesses operating in the social economy sector in Quebec. These are dedicated people, who relish coming to the rescue, helping society, elderly people, people who have lower incomes, those who have needs. Instead of giving the money back to Quebec, parallel structures will be set up, which makes no sense, because the structures are already there. It is not structures that we need, but money and a government that minds its own business. Minding its own business means looking after it, but not interfering in the others' business means giving the money to the provinces so that they too can look after their own affairs.

I would like her to persuade us even further. I see it as a daily task. We have not yet managed to do it, but with her eloquence, perhaps the hon. member for Laval will be able to find the needed words. I have toured all of Quebec, I have met elderly people and I find it painful every time our money is being wasted on structures rather than helping the already existing ones. I would like her to talk about the 7,000 social economy businesses that exist in Quebec and about how we might provide them with further assistance.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will correct that. There was reference made to 11 months retroactivity in Quebec. I do not want to say that is false, but there has been an error. The retroactivity for the Régie des rentes du Québec is—

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I have a number of questions. I will ask the questions, and one or the other can answer. The question is in fact unchanged, and the minister will answer it shortly.

I would like to point out that the people denied the guaranteed income supplement were denied it—it has been admitted—because the government did not provide the information they were entitled to. I find that abnormal.

I can provide specific cases of people who did not get the money, either because they were not informed or because they were misinformed. The former minister had resolved the problem. The proof they were misinformed is that things have since been changed. Why not agree to full and complete back payments, or at least five years?

When a 70 year old couple—both of them—were denied $20,000 for five years, the government was found to be responsible. The couple gains $4,000 and loses $20,000. Why not apply the same rules to those who are owed money as to those to whom the government owes money? When money is owed to the government, retroactive payment is not limited to 11 months. Could the period of retroactive payment for seniors not be at least five years?

There has even been a class action about this. It is incredible to see the arguments the government comes up with to not give in. Yet these people are owed money.

As for the assistance you are giving, would there be a possibility—I am troubled to hear the minister saying that I am insulting him with my tone of voice,when I think my tone is as friendly as can be—to tell seniors that the $2.7 billion that will be going out over the next five years is coming out of the $3.2 billion saved? Seniors were poorly informed. They are not being given money, they are just being reimbursed. Over the past 11 or 12 years $3.2 billion has been saved and now $2.7 billion will be given back over the next 5 years, starting in 2006.

I would like to know the minster's reaction to this. I see this as a fairly honest way to settle this. We want to see seniors get full retroactivity.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Excuse me, Mr. Chair, I am the only one asking questions, but two ministers responded. Is that correct? I was told we were to use a one to one ratio. Is that right?

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, I will try not to shoot as many questions at the minister as my colleague has just been doing. We in Quebec were used to seeing him in net for the Canadiens and he was known then as able to handle anything that came at him. This feels a bit like another hockey game here.

This evening, we are having a really interesting discussion. We all want the same: help us do more for the community. I think that the solution to all our problems would quite simply be to respect provincial jurisdictions. This evening, in fact, the topic of discussion is a provincial responsibility.

I have been a Quebec MLA. I have worked for the people you have been talking about. I have helped social workers organize. The whole problem is the two levels of government that are butting heads. There is a shameful waste of energy and money. Why are we against the creation of this department? Not because we have anything against the minister or the people that will make up that department, but because the money going to the 14,000 employees will not be getting to the provinces, to Quebec, to meet the needs we are talking about.

l appreciated my colleague's story about helping his elderly parents when they were dying. I had a similar experience in my own family barely three weeks ago. It is true that people need to be helped, but as long as there are two levels of government looking after the same thing, energy and money will be wasted.

The minister was saying “Help us”. Let us go back to the beginnings of this country, the Canadian Constitution, with its division of responsibilities and powers. There were provisions to ensure that each did what was its responsibility.

With the federal government it is not like that. In committee, I saw a diagram that illustrated it, but I do not have it with me. The federal government is feeling an increasing need to be everywhere. Rather than deal with the fiscal imbalance and return the money to the provinces for health, education, help to families and so on, they work along side the provincial government, establish their presence and duplicate the work, as if the two were competing over the same place. This results in wasted money, and on top of that there is a problem with control.

I recall in committee a question being put to the Minister of National Revenue, which caused him a little grief. He said that the department had become so huge that it was hard to control everything. Indeed, the machine has become so big it wastes a lot of money.

I would make a little aside. For as long as I have been an MLA and an MP I have known that it sometimes does not take a lot of money to resolve a problem. The government members know this. They announced $30,000 for a project in Quebec. I will refer only to the stolen part of the sponsorship scandal, the $100 million that has not been found. I am not accusing anyone. I am not referring to the entire budget for the sponsorship scandal, which is open to question, I refer to the part stolen. I divided it by 300 members. Do you know that each MP would have $333,000 for their community?

Do you know what can be done in a riding with this amount? It is pretty big. More can be done than was done with the sponsorship scandal, you will agree. A number of people can be helped. But there are too many people. Two governments are getting in each other's way and duplicating efforts, often causing each other harm.

I think this would be a way to help us carry out all the fine projects. I honestly think they want to see them succeed.

The issue I am concerned with has to do with seniors. A few years ago, it was discovered that thousands of seniors across Canada, some 270,000 cases recognized by the department, had not received the guaranteed income supplement to which they were entitled.

To get to the bottom of this, I toured Quebec and saw some awful things. In Sherbrooke, a woman passed away at age 88 after living through her old age on $6,000 a year. At the time of her death, the government owed her $90,000 in guaranteed income supplement. I have seen some terrible things.

I have two or three questions for the minister. Can he assure us that all seniors who are entitled to receive the guaranteed income supplement will receive it? When this file was handed over to us, there were 270,000 cases in Canada, including 68,000 in Quebec. The tour and the intense investigating that followed allowed us to find nearly half the cases. Some 110,000 seniors across Canada still were not receiving the guaranteed income supplement they were entitled to. I want to know if there are still any cases today and, if so, how many. I have another question I will ask later.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act May 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague for the very interesting speech he just made. Unfortunately, if the MP who spoke earlier about the Bloc's intentions had been here, she would have discovered exactly what was in the bill, thanks to the speech we just heard. In my opinion, it says a great deal about areas of jurisdiction.

I was also there during the period to which he referred, from the time of Jean Lesage to now, and I can confirm that it is true. Quebec has always fought for funding, but without interference in its jurisdictions or being undermined. This is exactly what my colleague was saying and what this legislation will do yet again.

I have a question for him. Earlier, I was misunderstood when I said that, in the past six years, the federal government—and I am not referring to the Quebec government—has increased the public service by 59,000 employees. Payroll for the provision of services has increased by $9 billion, give or take several hundred million, although the provinces, including Quebec, have the means to do this. There is a duplication in the provision of services.

I want my colleague's opinion on this. Maybe he could elaborate a little because his experience is different from mine. However, in my opinion, it is disgraceful that we cannot get our money and that, furthermore, we are being told how to administer areas of jurisdiction belonging to Quebec.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act May 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I find it very enlightening to hear my colleague opposite. I would like to ask her a few questions because I think that we do not have the same understanding of how the economy works.

Over the last five or six years, this government has increased the number of public service employees by 59,000. Talking about the fiscal imbalance, she said that increasing the number of public service employees in a particular region would solve this problem. We believe that a better way of dealing with the fiscal imbalance would be to stop stepping on each other's toes and to give the money back to the provinces in their areas of jurisdiction.

I find it hard to believe that people such as the member would say that we need to have more offices, more limousines and more ministers to solve the issues with which the provinces and the regions are struggling. That is simply not true. The first thing that needs to be done is to respect provincial jurisdictions and to give the money back to the authorities responsible for dealing with these issues. As my colleagues were saying, regional economic development requires regional consensus. The federal government cannot tell us what to do. One just has to watch the Gomery commission to understand that there are no lessons to be learned from the federal government.

Can the member explain to me how increasing the number of federal public service employees by 59,000 and increasing the number of offices would solve the fiscal imbalance? I would like her to elaborate on that.

Guaranteed Income Supplement May 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, once again, the interests of Quebec are not being served. Over the past 12 years, seniors have been denied money to which they are entitled. This government brags about the money it is allocating for seniors in its budget, and yet, it still refuses to reimburse the 68,000 seniors who have been deprived the guaranteed income supplement.

How can the Prime Minister throw billions of dollars about, here, there and everywhere when he owes so much money to seniors?

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act May 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what the hon. member thinks of the following. I find this government tendency a bit worrisome. In Quebec as in other provinces, but particularly in Quebec, there is a tendency to constantly add new levels of government, which costs a fortune. I do not know if the hon. member has any idea of the cost of that duplication. Apparently, the new department would have about fifteen offices in Quebec only.

Could the hon. member tell us how much that duplication would cost not only in terms of civil servants and administrative work in general, but also in terms of linkage and follow up between the different levels of government?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 19th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the end of my colleague's speech, as well as the beginning, which I was here yesterday to hear. He tried to summarize in 10 minutes all the mistakes in this budget, as well as its shortcomings as far as Quebec is concerned. He ended by touching on the seniors issue.

Given his announcement of a planned increase in old age pensions, I would like to hear his opinion on the fact that seniors have been robbed for the past 10 years. The increase announced in the budget will start in 2006, if the promises in the budget are kept. This means that those who have been fleeced will continue to be fleeced. They are making out that they have already paid out money but the seniors will get it only over the next four years. I would like to hear my colleague's reaction on that.