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View Jagmeet Singh Profile
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-02-25 10:48 [p.1478]
Madam Speaker, today we are talking about an opportunity to really transform the lives of Canadians.
My colleague told stories about some people, yet millions of Canadians cannot take care of their teeth. The Liberal government is proposing a tax giveaway, where the majority of the benefit would flow to those who earn over $100,000. If we target that measure and help those who need it most, those who earn less than $90,000, we can free up enough money to cover 4.3 million Canadians who need to take care of their teeth.
That is what we are proposing today. It would transform the lives of people in the ridings of all members of Parliament who cannot get the dental care they need.
I think about a woman who I met when I was walking down the streets of Vancouver. She ran up to me with her hand over her mouth. She told me that she had heard me talking about dental care. I told her that we wanted to ensure people were covered. She said that she never imagined she would ever be able to afford to get her teeth looked after. She told me that once she became older and was no longer covered under her parents' plan, she could not afford to go to the dentist, that her teeth were in a really rough shape now and that she was embarrassed. She was afraid to apply for a new job because she did not think people would hire her if they saw the condition of her teeth. She had tried her best, but there was something wrong with her teeth and she could not afford to get them looked fixed.
I think about her story and the many other Canadians who cannot afford to take care of their teeth. In a country as wealthy as ours, that should not be the way.
I think about what we could do if we made a better choice. We have choices. The Liberal government is making a choice. Right now, it is choosing to give away billions of dollars to people who do not need. It is making a choice to benefit those who do not really need the benefit. The Liberal government is making a choice and we are asking it to choose better. We could take the current proposal for the tax giveaway and put that money toward helping those who need it most. Let us focus on those people. If we do that, we would free up the money.
Let us talk about the choices.
The Liberal government's proposed tax giveaway would cost over $6 billion. If it targeted that measure and focused it on those families that need it the most, we could free up $1.6 billion. The Parliamentary Budge Office costed out how much it would take to cover those families that are uninsured. It found that year over year, it would cost just over $800 million. It would be more expensive in the first year because so many Canadians who did not have access to dental care would rush to get their teeth fixed. That would cost $1.8 billion in the first year, but would stabilize at around $800 million. This is huge.
Imagine the people across Canada right now who cannot get their teeth taken care of. If they go to an emergency room because their teeth are hurting, they are told there is nothing the hospital can do. They are given painkillers and sent home, yet the problem with their teeth remains. If we think about it, it makes no sense that we can go into a hospital and have complicated heart surgery or have our joints rebuilt, but if we have a problem with our teeth, we are sent home with painkillers. That is the only solution so many Canadians have. We need to change that.
A couple of months ago a woman came to my office. She did not want me to share her name because she was embarrassed about her situation. She had a problem with her teeth. However, her problem was even more heartbreaking. She could not afford medication to treat an illness she had and due to the complications of that illness she had lost some of her teeth. She was in pain. This woman had two problems. First, she could not afford medication. Second, she could not afford dental care. When I looked at her, I thought of how we were failing as a society. She thought it was her fault. She told me that she wanted to work hard, that she did not want any handouts and that she was at my office because she wanted to find a way forward.
I told her that it was not her fault, that she was not to blame. The horrible decisions we made resulted in her medication and dental care not being covered. We can change that.
Today we have an opportunity to make a change. The Liberal government is proposing a tax change, and we are proposing a solution. If this measure can target the people who need it most, we can implement a dental care program to help families who do not have access to the care they desperately need.
We have been observing the Liberal government's decisions and choices. Recently, the Liberals spent millions of dollars of public money to help corporations like Loblaws and Mastercard. They often choose to help the rich. The Liberals' proposed change would also help individuals who earn more than $100,000.
We are proposing that this change be scaled down and targeted to the people who need it most, meaning people who earn less than $90,000. If we adopt this measure, we can implement a dental plan that will benefit nearly 4.3 million Canadians.
We know that this is needed in Quebec. Some Quebeckers have dental problems but cannot afford dental care. We want to change that. A federal program would help these people access dental care, which would change many lives.
This is an option, a solution and a choice. We can do this. I urge all members of the House to think about the families in their ridings who need dental care but cannot afford it. I urge them to think about how we can help them. Today we have an opportunity to help them.
I think about the choices we have made and the opportunity we have before us. The motion before the House now is a concrete thing we could do right now.
I would like the members on the Liberal benches, all members, to think about the people in their ridings right now, to think about the families, the young people who do not have benefits and will never have them in their lifetime. I ask them to think about the gig economy and the fact that for many young people, the dream of having benefits is not there for them, the dream of having benefits that will cover their teeth is simply not a reality.
We owe it to those young people to do something to care of them. They deserve to have their teeth taken care of. They deserve to have a healthy life. Dental health is directly connected to their overall well-being and health. We can make this change right now.
I am going to put this to the government one more time.
The Liberal government is proposing a tax change, a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Canadians, those who earn over $100,000. Let us focus the tax change to benefit the families that need it most, those people who earn less than $90,000. With the money we free up, let us put in place a national dental care program that will lift up families, that will allow young people who cannot afford to have their teeth taken care of to get the dental care service they need. It will also allow workers who are struggling in jobs with no benefits to have confidence, knowing they can care for their teeth. This will change the lives of so many Canadians. This is a real choice that we can make right now to lift up people.
I call on the Liberal government to do the right thing, to target the tax measure to help families that are in need, to bring in place national dental care to lift up families, to ensure people can access the care they so desperately need.
That is the choice we have today. I call on all members in the House to support that choice.
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