Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I take part in this debate. I wish to commend my hon. colleague from Trois-Rivières for her work on this issue. I would like to limit myself to trying to convince the Liberals of something of which I will probably not be successful in convincing them. As members know, they can hardly show their faces these days. When they attempt to explain to the public, the workers who are denied a right, that all in all what they have done with the EI program was good, things get a little ugly.
I would like to invite the Liberal member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, who spoke earlier, to come and travel across my region of Haute-Mauricie, where people have lost their money to the EI fund. I do not care whether the Liberals call it a fund or not. They must know how to write, because they wrote it somewhere. It is clear that they took money that did not belong to them. The member said they were kind because they reduced the premiums. Not one worker asked for lower premiums. What the workers wanted was to be able to rely on this insurance should they lose their job. The Liberals may laugh now, but they will not laugh when they face an election in the future.
Imagine someone taking out fire insurance on his house. It burns down with all his belongings in it, and the insurance company tells him that the bad news is that it will not be giving him any money. The good news, however, is that his premiums will be lower in future. Does that make any sense? That is the reform they are trying to sell people on, the reform they carried out in order, as my colleague has already said, to get their hands on as much money as possible. Soon we will be finding out even more about this government's dishonesty. I find it shocking that they are trying to put things over on people once again. I think they will take it just as far as they can go.
They have taken the money of about 38% of workers who contributed to EI in order to have some security. I keep hearing from people in my offices in La Tuque, Grand-Mère, Shawinigan and elsewhere in the riding “Mr. Gagnon, I have just lost my job and I am not entitled to benefits although I paid into it for years.” It is the same all over Quebec. Why? Because the Liberal Party took the money in order to do favours for its little friends. They claim that not only have they paid down the debt, but they have acted as good administrators because they have reduced it by $65 billion. Of that amount, $54 billion came from workers, and $3 billion from seniors. As many palms as possible were greased, and now they are boasting about paying the debt down by $65 billion. It pains me to see that they are capable of defending such things.
It is no surprise that, in raising such issues—and I know we are not allowed to comment on who is or is not present in the House—I will certainly not get any ovations on my speech from the people across the way. I am quite sure of that. The public has had enough. A couple of weeks ago, a mother asked me whether I could possibly go around to the schools to tell people it is still possible for politics to be honest. She found it depressing to hear our young people coming home from school talking about political scandals. I plan to do that, because a country survives because of politics, is administered by politics.
Since I am not allowed to use the word “lie” in the House, I will say that people are fed up with never being told the truth. Earlier, someone said that the government did everything to help workers, that it reduced premiums. Come on. This is not what workers want. They want their due. They do not want a reduction of their premiums. Whether they pay $3 or $2.95 is of little importance, but if they lose their job and cannot provide for their family even though they are insured, that changes everything.
The government is using nice rhetoric about poverty and how sensitive it is to child poverty. But can children be well-off when their family is poor? Can children enjoy what they are entitled to as children, including education and so on, when their working parents lose their jobs and do not qualify for benefits, even though they contributed to the employment insurance program?
Let us stop being hypocrites. Let us begin administering the fund like intelligent and honest people. The hon. member for Trois-Rivières is proposing an honest piece of legislation. Workers are asking for this legislation. Let us adopt it.
If the Liberals are opposed to it, I invite them to come to my riding and tell workers that they did their best to protect them. They will see the workers' reaction for themselves. The last election held in Quebec was quite telling. The next one, which may come sooner than some think, will show that we no longer want such corruption. We want to manage our own affairs in Quebec, we do not to be lied to anymore, and we will probably make the appropriate decision at the earliest opportunity.