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View Stephanie Kusie Profile
CPC (AB)
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2020-02-18 12:20 [p.1137]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Bloc Québécois for introducing this motion today.
I would like to start by saying that I am really torn over this motion. We have an expression that explains why.
The phrase is to put one's money where one's mouth is. I think this is something that is very important to do. It means that we put our money in places that matter. In regard to this motion, as a nation and as a government, let us put our money where our people are. It is very important to put our money where our people are.
Sadly, like many people in the House, I am no stranger to cancer. My father had cancer. It is a very difficult thing to see any loved one go through. It is never a short process. Recovery takes a long time after an operation. Some people, after having gone through radiation, have to turn the heat up at night because they are cold. This stuff is very devastating and touches the lives of Canadians and everyone in this House personally.
I understand why the Bloc Québécois felt that it was a good idea to introduce this motion.
It really truly touches the lives of Canadians and has the potential to make life much better for Canadians.
I receive many cases in my office about people who face the things my family went through. I have a note here about a constituent who was dealing with cancer and whose doctor told him he needed to be off work for a specific number of weeks before he would be given a letter that he was in the clear. The gap between his sick benefits running out and his date for going back to work was significant. He said that he did not know how, other than remortgaging his home or borrowing from friends and family, he was going to be able to survive. He would have to either try to return to work before he was cleared to do so or remain at home with no money coming in. His wife was also dealing with health issues and had not been working for some time.
This motion has the potential to help people. As the previous speaker mentioned, it would allow for a lot less stress in people's lives as they could focus on their recovery and getting better, which is all that they want to do. It would allow them to focus on returning to work and becoming a productive member of society. Every Canadian wants to contribute to this amazing nation of ours. From a fiscally conservative perspective, I believe this would relieve billions from our health care system over time. Individuals would be given the time needed to fully recover before returning to work rather than being forced back to work before being ready or able to do so, as we have seen in these cases.
In the short three months I have been shadow minister for families, children and social development, I have learned that the system is broken. It is absolutely broken. This is why I have a difficult time supporting this motion. While it is a small change to go from 15 weeks to 50 weeks, it has life-changing potential, but so much more has to be done.
We are a nation that needs a national anti-poverty strategy. We are a nation that needs a housing strategy of $40 billion over 10 years. We are a nation with seniors who are not able to make ends meet. OAS and CPP need a major re-evaluation. We are a nation where so many families rely on the Canada child benefit. To me, all of this really speaks to the fact that our nation is broken. Our system is broken. Will this motion be enough? Sadly, I am really not sure.
However, I do know that there is a lot of waste. Until this point, 2020, there has been a cost of $1.1 billion for this implementation. There will be $1.3 billion by 2025. Those are not small amounts at all, especially with a 2019 budget projection of $355.6 billion. That is just so much money that I am very torn about this as well.
As I said, I am torn because I see the benefit of this for Canadians in terms of their quality of life and time for recovery, but I also worry about the entire system and the costs of it as well.
We have seen no shortage of waste from the government, unfortunately, with $20 million going to the food waste reduction challenge. That is a lot of money for such a challenge. The last time we sat here, we saw the government give $50 million to Mastercard. That is a significant amount of money. We have to ask if this large budget is being spent effectively.
In the last Parliament, we talked about the $12 million that went to Loblaws to retrofit fridges. These are not insignificant amounts at all. It goes back again to what I said about putting our money where our people are, rather than wasting it. As I also mentioned, the system is broken. I wish I could say the waste stops there, but it does not: $950 million was allocated for a innovation supercluster initiative to create 50,000 jobs. We do not know if that is actually happening.
It is very hard to consider investing so much more money in our government on the backs of taxpayers when we have this incredible amount of waste, this incredible debt and this incredible deficit. These are definitely things that we have to consider.
As my colleague and the previous speaker alluded to as well, the government does things halfway. I saw in its 2019 platform that it was considering going to 26 weeks, not quite halfway but somewhere between the 1971 precedent, which I agree is outdated, and the amount of time proposed by the Bloc in this motion.
Again, it is a government that does things halfway, such as letting Trans Mountain go on and on with no approval, then finally purchasing the pipeline for $4.4 billion, but to what end? We are seeing the government waffle and waver again here with Teck Frontier.
There is the government's inability to take a stand or make a decision on something. It just tries to find a sloppy compromise without being principled, really making a difference or changing anything. It is incredibly frustrating.
I thank the Bloc for bringing forward this motion today, although I was very disturbed to see that one of their final three proposed motions was to vote down Teck Frontier. It was a complete rejection of that. I feel that we as Conservatives have been very kind toward the Bloc and Quebec initiatives, especially in regard to NAFTA, steel, aluminum and those sorts of things. It was very disappointing to see that motion made it to potentially be one of the final three.
I often hear that the systems in Quebec are really superior, especially in terms of day cares.
I hear all the time about these incredible systems that they have there. Maybe this is a place where we can give the Bloc the opportunity to show leadership and lead the way for us together as one House of Commons and one chamber. Perhaps they are doing that for us in this moment.
However, I will finish by saying that I am very torn. I believe that the system is broken, but I also believe that we need to put our money where our people are. I look forward to further debate on this motion.
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