Mr. Speaker, this evening I am following up on a question I asked on February 17. I will remind anyone who is kindly watching CPAC at this late hour of my question:
Since the CMHC was involved in building and renovating assisted-living housing for frail senior citizens, could the Minister of Employment and Social Development tell us whether he has read the report and what measures will be taken to help the owners of seniors' residences cover the costs related to sprinkler installation?
When I asked that question on February 17, the reaction from the ministers was shocking. It was clear that no one was prepared to answer the question. It was rather disarming. The Minister of State for Science and Technology essentially told me that the provinces had access to programs. It would be hard to come up with a lazier and more meaningless answer.
This question is a relevant one. As we know, L'Isle-Verte has seen a lot of human pain. Since I represent this town, I have unfortunately witnessed this first-hand. L'Isle-Verte was devastated by a fire that killed a number of seniors. It was a profound tragedy.
Nearly a year later, the Delâge report has revealed some important findings. They are relevant not only at the provincial level, but at the federal level too. The report states, for instance, that seniors residences with more than 10 housing units need to be given financial support so they can install sprinklers, and that should become a standard.
Following the release of the Delâge report, the spokesperson for the Regroupement québécois des résidences pour aînés, Yves Desjardins, had this to say:
Soon after the release of the Delâge report, we made it clear that we did not want this report to be shelved and that immediate action must be taken in order to prevent another tragedy like the one that occurred in L'Isle-Verte.
I could not have said it better myself. We have a collective duty to do something in the wake of such a tragedy. In Quebec alone, over 700 seniors residences need to invest in the installation of sprinkler systems in order to keep our seniors safe.
This ties in directly with CMHC and calls by the Regroupement québécois des résidences pour aînés. For example, residences with 50 housing units or more can apply to a CMHC program for a loan guarantee. However, residences that have between 10 and 50 units, which is in line with the recommendations of the Delâge report, cannot apply to that program.
Instead of just making sure the Prime Minister attended the ceremony after the tragedy, the federal government should have heeded the Delâge report recommendations and done the necessary follow-up, which would have been the compassionate thing to do. It should have been ready to talk to Canadians about the possible changes CMHC might make in order to provide better support for the owners of seniors residences, in accordance with the findings of the Delâge report.
Again, we are talking about seniors with reduced mobility, some of the most fragile Canadians. This evening, I hope to get the beginnings of a constructive response that is useful to this debate.