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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-01-27 11:19 [p.429]
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the chamber and address a number of concerns that I have.
Here we are at the beginning of a new decade and I am feeling very optimistic, because over the last number of years we have seen a government in Canada that has had a very progressive attitude and has been able to deliver for Canadians in all regions of our country. Let there be no doubt that the priority of this government has been Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. That has been the case since day one, and even prior.
I can recall that when the Prime Minister was elected leader of the Liberal Party, when we were the third party in the far corner of the House of Commons, he made it very clear in his leadership bid that his personal priority was the well-being of Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, believing that by building Canada's middle class and giving it strength, we would have a healthier economy. We have seen that.
The member opposite made reference to the fact that in the month of November, 70,000 people became unemployed. We need to look at what we have accomplished in the last four years. There are well over one million net new jobs in Canada's economy. That is far more than Stephen Harper ever achieved in his eight or nine years. We have accomplished a great deal.
I will be splitting my time with the member for Hull—Aylmer.
I was very proud to be sitting beside the Deputy Prime Minister just 20 minutes ago when she tabled a ways and means notice of motion dealing with the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.
Having said that, trade is important to Canada. This is one thing that adds value to our economy. In the last four years, the government has accomplished the signing of a significant number of trade agreements. We are talking about well over 25 or 30, with numerous countries. We have had a very aggressive and progressive movement toward trade agreements around the world because we know that Canada is very much dependent on world trade. That is one of the ways we can assist our middle class and grow our economy. We have seen that first-hand.
I often make reference to the pork industry in the province of Manitoba and how that industry as a whole continues to grow and provide thousands of jobs there, whether in Brandon, Neepawa, the city of Winnipeg or throughout rural communities. This is the type of thing that has a real impact, and that is just one industry. These jobs, in good part, are there because of trade. Trade is critically important. That is why it was so encouraging to see the government put trade as a high priority.
We look to the opposition members and particularly the Conservative Party, which has been a very strong advocate in past years for trade. We anticipate that the Conservatives will have the opportunity to go through the agreement and will continue to support trade with the United States. It is the same with the Bloc and the New Democrats. We understand and appreciate just how important this agreement is to Canada.
We have talked about the issues brought forward in the last few years, and I made reference to a number of them in the question I put to the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. We dealt with them through positive, progressive social policies, and we have seen a continuation.
I could talk about the first bill that we brought in back in 2015, the tax break for Canada's middle class. At the same time, we increased taxes for Canada's wealthiest 1%. Four years later, we are seeing a decrease in taxes for Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars being put into the pockets of Canadians, adding to the disposable income of people across this country.
In terms of the other benefits we have enhanced, the Canada child benefit is something members of the Liberal caucus will quite often talk about. As I have made reference to in the past, over $9 million a month goes into the riding of Winnipeg North alone to support children.
We can talk about the increases to the guaranteed income supplement. We made a commitment to support some of our poorest seniors, those aged 75 and over, who are having a more difficult time, by looking into how we could further enhance their pensionable incomes. Over the next period of time, I look forward to seeing that realized. We understand how important it is to support young people and seniors in our communities.
These sorts of investments and putting the money back in through tax breaks allow the disposable income in our communities to go up. When we do these things, disposable income is being spent in our communities. That helps to fuel the demand for jobs.
That is why I believe, as I know my colleagues also believe, that having a healthy, strong middle class and building that middle class will add value to our economy and will make it stronger and healthier.
Over the years, we have seen an ongoing commitment to capital investments such as our housing strategy, with billions of dollars being invested in the first-ever national housing strategy, a very tangible action that will have a profoundly positive impact on thousands of Canadians in every region of our country by recognizing the importance of housing.
We can talk about infrastructure, whether it is roads or other types of community public facilities. Hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars have thus far been invested in our communities from coast to coast to coast.
For the first time, we have a government that is prepared to negotiate with the provinces to achieve tangible results. We have seen that in the Canada pension program. Individuals who are working today will have more money when it comes time to retire because of an initiative we took a couple of years back.
As a government, I truly believe we have recognized how important it is to invest in our social programs. If we were to canvass Canadians and ask them what makes them feel good about being a Canadian, more often than not I believe they would say, at least in Winnipeg North, that it is our health care system. People love our health care system. They believe in our health care system. The Canada Health Act provides the type of framework that Canadians are behind. The government is sending record amounts of health care dollars throughout our federation. Not only are we doing that, but we are now talking about how to come up with a pharmacare program.
I have been a parliamentarian for 30 years. For a vast majority of those years, we never heard about a national pharmacare program. It is only in the last four years it has been on the public agenda on virtually a weekly basis. If it were up to me, we would be having debate and discussion on a national pharmacare program every day, because it is something in which I genuinely believe. I suspect we will continue to receive the type of support we have seen from the New Democrats on pharmacare.
Discussing how we might be able to expand it is something I am open to. I remember a few years ago, my daughter, who happens to be the MLA in an area I represent in Winnipeg North, and I made a commitment to continue to push the pharmacare issue. She has tabled petitions in the Manitoba legislature and I have tabled numerous petitions in the House of Commons on this issue. The reason is that I know how important it is for all Canadians that we continue to push this issue forward. I believe we have a united caucus within the government caucus to ensure we see a realization of a pharmacare program.
I see my time has expired, so I will leave it at that.
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