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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is workers.

Bloc MP for Salaberry—Suroît (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2019, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply February 18th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised at my colleague's comment and question.

The Bloc Québécois is not missing the boat at all. The Bloc Québécois is here to serve and defend sick workers. Our goal is not to move a motion that would make a small change for women or men on maternity or paternity leave.

As I said before, our goal is to ensure that, when workers who have contributed to the program get sick and need care for more than 15 or 26 weeks, they will not have to worry about their future. We want them to know that they will be able to cover their rent, food and care so they can focus on getting well.

I can assure the House that the Bloc Québécois is not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. What we are trying to do is help the most vulnerable people, the most vulnerable workers. I am proud to be here today to put that on the record. Sick workers, workers in general and vulnerable people will always be able to count on Bloc MPs to stand up for them.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

The answer is no. In our view, all workers paying into the EI program who become sick while working should be entitled to a maximum of 50 weeks of special benefits. We are not going to start dividing sick workers into different categories. Everyone who pays into the program should be protected.

In our view, a worker who is sick for a long time and needs more than 15 weeks should be entitled to up to 50 weeks. That would make things fair for all workers who pay into EI.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to speak to this motion that is so important to me. For the benefit of those who are watching us on TV and who may be wondering why I am wearing a green ribbon, I want to point out that this week Quebec is celebrating Hooked on School Days. The members of the Bloc Québécois who rise today are proud to support Hooked on School Days, which are so important to our nation.

As I have said many times, I am a social worker by training. Before I became a member of Parliament I worked in a CLSC. I worked with the most vulnerable members of our community, including the sick and those who needed support. I am very proud to share a little about my job today, because it shows why I support this important motion.

Social workers in Quebec's health care network are fortunate to have good, unionized, secure jobs with group insurance that guarantees they will get paid in case of illness. The union negotiates this insurance. It helps workers get treatment and return to work quickly.

Today, I can say that, over the course of my career, I have met many people who do not have the privilege of having insurance or of having a job that gives them everything they need to get through difficult times in their lives.

The people we are talking about today and who will be affected by this motion, should the government support it, are the type of people who are not that fortunate, who do not have the privilege of having a job that guarantees them group insurance coverage at times of personal hardship. They are workers who like their jobs and have the misfortune of getting sick. When the doctor tells them about chemotherapy and radiation, the first thing they think about is how they are going to pay their rent if the treatment takes a long time or if the cancer comes back. I am not talking about a mortgage here, because people who own their own homes often have mortgage insurance that covers payments in the event of misfortune. I am talking about people in precarious jobs, who live in apartments, who do not own their own homes, and who get sick. I am talking about people who have to fight to beat a serious illness and quickly get back to work.

In my professional life, I met with people in this situation whose jobs were precarious, who were good workers, men and women who wanted to work and who paid EI premiums, fulfilled all their responsibilities as workers, but who became ill. This motion, this amendment of the Employment Insurance Act that the Bloc Québécois has been championing for many years, seeks to meet the needs of these people and of these workers in particular.

The government is telling us that it is too much to ask for 50 weeks, that benefits are increasing from 15 to 26 weeks. It is saying that the opposition always wants the maximum amount. That is a rather odd way of looking at things. As my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville stated, when someone has this serious illness and requires treatments that prevent them from working, when they become that statistic, the person who goes over the 15 or 26 weeks, it is not about exaggerating, it is about being compassionate, understanding and inclusive. This is a social safety net that Quebec and all provinces want to provide to their workers who become ill.

Let's now take a look at the 26 weeks that are provided to family caregivers. People in their mid-fifties like myself are often parents, grandparents and also family caregivers. As society is changing and people are living longer, people of my generation must support their children, grandchildren and parents.

Essentially, the Employment Insurance Act was amended to make things right and address this new social reality by increasing special benefits for caregivers to 26 weeks. It is a very good idea.

I have worked in a CLSC, and I can honestly say that this measure was really helpful, particularly for providing at-home support to seniors in rural areas. It enabled seniors and very sick people to leave this world with dignity, while surrounded by their loved ones.

Now, it is not right for someone to lose their income because they get sick and their treatments require them to miss work for more than 15 weeks. Clearly, the last thing someone in that situation wants to think about is how they will meet their financial obligations if they require further treatment.

When somebody has cancer and lives in a rural area, they must not only shoulder the burden of the disease, but also pay to travel in order to receive treatment, which is often only available in large urban areas. For example, if someone from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, which is in my riding, needs to get to Montreal for chemotherapy or radiation therapy, it takes an hour to an hour and a half to drive there and costs an average of $45 to $50.

Basically, people get only 15 weeks of employment insurance, even though they often have low-paying jobs that barely allow them to meet their financial obligations. These people have to pay out of pocket to travel for treatment.

The Liberals claim that the Bloc Québécois is being a bit greedy because they have already promised to extend the benefit period from 15 weeks to 26. They say that this is already a lot and that we should not cry wolf. They are suggesting that we keep thinking and that an amendment to the act, such as increasing the benefits to 50 weeks, could be introduced a little later.

I have seen a situation first-hand. A member of my family was diagnosed with cancer and fought it. His recovery and treatments lasted over 15 weeks. He was very happy, and so were we, to have group insurance so that he was able to honour his commitments.

We in the Bloc have a hard time understanding why it would be so complicated to amend the Employment Insurance Act and increase the benefit period to 50 weeks. We know that an amendment to such an important piece of legislation does not happen in every Parliament, and, as my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville said, we have a great opportunity to settle this issue of inequity and injustice once and for all.

For us, giving up and settling for 26 weeks is out of the question. We want to support these people who have to fight for their lives day after day to regain their health, get through their illness, and return to work.

In debates in the House, we do not talk enough about workers in that situation. I do not know whether any members of the House are actuaries, but it does not take a genius to know that not all sick workers will need 50 weeks to get better.

I believe that we have the means to do this. We have a golden opportunity, and I hope that government members will support our motion and be inspired by our arguments. These are workers with precarious jobs. They are the most vulnerable members of our society. They have the right to legislation that gives them better protection than they have now.

Business of the House February 18th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the member for Beloeil—Chambly, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act February 3rd, 2020

Madam Speaker, as the member for Beloeil—Chambly stated many times during question period, the Bloc Québécois has put forward some proposals.

Although they cannot be discussed in the House at this time, these proposals were submitted to the government, and they have the potential to lessen the impact of the agreement on Quebec's economy. I believe it would be very healthy and democratic to let the many witnesses speak in committee, regardless of whether they are for or against the free trade agreement. We currently do not have the opportunity to hear from all sides. We do not have the opportunity to hear from those who support the agreement and those who do not. The Bloc Québécois is in favour of hearing from witnesses affected by the agreement who are not currently receiving press coverage. We sincerely hope to have a—

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act February 3rd, 2020

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

The Bloc Québécois has proposed a private member's bill that will prevent the government from chipping away at the supply management system. We will debate this bill, and we hope that all of our colleagues in the House will support us on this, since this bill would prevent any further breaches. This is tangible action, and we hope to have the support of all our colleagues in the House.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act February 3rd, 2020

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

This gives me the opportunity to remind him that the hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly and leader of the Bloc Québécois has repeatedly said in the House that we were prepared to listen and collaborate and that we had proposals that would help mitigate the adverse effects of the current treaty on Quebec's economy.

We are in a democratic partnership where it is good to have a full debate to allow every parliamentarian to put forward their changes or proposals to improve the agreement wherever possible.

That is why the Bloc Québécois decided to vote against the current state of affairs. However, we are open to working together in committee and participate in further debate. I think is healthy to be able to express our views and allow every sector affected by the agreement to testify in committee.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act February 3rd, 2020

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill.

I would like to take a moment to thank the managers at the Montérégie-Ouest CISSS. When I was part of the management team overseeing senior support services, they gave me a chance to fulfill my passion and my dream and put the right conditions in place for me to do the work that I am doing right now in the House of Commons. I want to thank all the managers who made it possible for me to enter politics. These female managers enabled a woman to enter politics. They walked the talk.

That was a short digression to say that I am very pleased to rise. Quite frankly, what I am really interested in today is talking about the situation affecting dairy producers. What we have seen, and this has been mentioned on numerous occasions, is that there are always winners and losers when a trade agreement is signed. It is important to recognize what the losers are losing. It is important that they have a voice and that we understand them. We need to debate these issues among parliamentarians. The Bloc Québécois intends to debate these issues for as long as possible and to continue the debate in committee so that all the witnesses, individuals, companies and industries that want to have a say about this agreement have the opportunity to do so.

In the latest trade agreements, Quebeckers have been the big losers. In the agreement that we are debating today, we are talking about the aluminum industry, a key industry for Quebec, as well as the supply managed industry. All dairy, turkey, chicken and other poultry producers were victims of the agreement.

Over 3% of our market will be open to American dairy products, which represents an annual loss of around $150 million. It is not just one loss in one year. For Quebec's dairy farmers, it is a market lost for life.

I represent a riding where more than half the dairy farms in Montérégie-Ouest are in my riding, Salaberry—Sûroit. Among the 237 farms in the Beauharnois-Salaberry, Haut-Saint-Laurent and Vaudreuil-Soulanges RCMs, half are dairy farms in the Montérégie-Ouest area. I must point out that our farmers are entrepreneurs, business people who are passionate about agriculture and who generate revenue and economic activity in our communities.

In my research I found part of a speech on protecting supply management that I delivered in 2006. Even then I was quite clear about the fact that we need to stop thinking that agricultural producers are not business people. They contribute to revitalizing our rural communities. They support local garages, convenience stores, grocery stores, mechanics, and the list goes on. Many businesses in our rural communities rely on farming activity. In my opinion, it is important to emphasize that these are businesses that generate major economic activity.

I will admit that I have a soft spot for dairy producers. All members in the House know that Quebec and Canada produce higher-quality milk. In Quebec, dairy producers have stringent standards with respect to the environment and animal well-being. Traceability standards are also quite strict. Quebec's traceability system is very effective, which means that we produce very high-quality milk. Unfortunately, this milk will end up competing in markets against milk produced under different and, we can only assume, lesser standards.

The trade agreements that were negotiated and ratified after 2011, when the Bloc Québécois ended up with fewer members in the House of Commons, were clearly more harmful for Quebec. One example is the free trade agreement with Europe. I was shocked to see that Quebec cheeses had been sacrificed. Quebec has some excellent cheeses. We have 300 different cheeses.

My colleague's riding of Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix is a remarkable place where you will find the best Quebec cheeses.

Quebec's cheese producers were sacrificed because Quebec produces 70% of Canada's fine cheeses. Many cheese producers told us that this agreement affects them because our market will be flooded with European cheese.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership created the first breach in supply management by opening up 3.25% of our dairy market.

Supply management is so important to us and we speak so much about it because for us it is the basis for Quebec's agricultural model, which we are really proud of.

Like all Bloc members, I have great aspirations for Quebec. We hope that one day it will take its place at the table of nations and be master of its own destiny. A strong Quebec with farm businesses that have a strong presence, are profitable and have solid ties to their community is important to us. We must maintain this highly developed agricultural model that is so uniquely ours and reflects our character as Quebeckers.

We know that dairy farmers were compensated for this year, but they are worried because they do not know what will happen in the years to come. As someone said earlier, when dairy markets are lost, it is not only for a year; it is forever. It is therefore important for farmers to understand what will happen next year.

The government appears hesitant to implement a program that farmers would have to qualify for, much like what the Conservatives did with the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

Our message is clear, and we will repeat it to the government when it presents the budget. We absolutely insist that dairy farmers must be compensated directly, as they were this year, for the duration of the compensation agreement. We do not want a program that farmers have to qualify for, a complicated program with more red tape. That is the last thing farmers need. They need to be financially compensated in the simplest way possible, as they were this year.

It would be unfortunate not to address the whole issue and challenge of milk proteins. I am not sure whether those watching our debate at home understand that the issue of milk proteins is threatening our dairy sector.

In Canada and the United States, milk consumption has gone down while consumption of butter, cream and ice cream has gone up. Processors are like everyone else. They want to make these products for less. That is why they are interested in buying milk ingredients for less from the United States.

Under the old agreement, our market was flooded with milk proteins from American diafiltered milk. In response to pressure from the Bloc Québécois and other parliamentarians, the government finally created a new milk class, class 7, that provides some protection to our processors so they will source dairy protein from our own dairy producers and stop buying it from American producers.

Naturally, the U.S. government was not pleased. In negotiations, it demanded that Canada get rid of class 7 so American protein could once more flood our market and threaten our dairy producers yet again.

I see two big problems with this agreement. In two very clear instances, the government failed supply management. First, it opened up a significant chink, and second, it took away class 7, which enabled our producers to work with processors to find an outlet for their inexpensive milk.

Dairy producers know they can count on the Bloc Québécois to vigorously advocate for them, because we believe that a country without agriculture is not a real country.

Marc-André Lachapelle January 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my profound admiration and extend sincere congratulations to Marc-André Lachapelle, a young 17-year-old man from Saint-Zotique whose act of bravery saved the life of Yvette Gingras. Mr. Lachapelle woke up on January 5 and went to work like any other day, only that day, he saw Ms. Gingras in distress on the side of the road. He quickly pulled over, went to her side and performed chest compressions until first responders arrived.

Mr. Lachapelle, your quick thinking, maturity and sense of duty saved Ms. Gingras' life. This event has likely helped confirm your career choice. I am confident that you will be an excellent paramedic, and I hope you will chose to remain in Salaberry—Suroît. I join the Gingras family in extending our most heartfelt thanks. I understand Ms. Gingras is doing better every day and I wish her a speedy recovery.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply December 12th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I agree that needs in the areas of mental health and poverty must be addressed. However, it is up to the provinces and Quebec to administer their own programs.

The best way to improve services is to give the provinces the 5.2% federal health transfer. Naturally, all the provincial premiers are asking for this.

If I understand correctly, my NDP colleague does not agree with the fact that the premier of the province she represents is seeking a 5.2% transfer from Ottawa to the provinces. We see it as the best way to improve the quality and level of service in our communities.