Mr. Speaker, I am talking about a strong economy, one that can fund a pharmacare program.
I am answering the question about how we can afford a pharmacare program of $34 billion, which is what the Hoskins report says pharmacare will cost. How can the government do that better than private enterprise is doing it already? We need a strong economy and right now, indigenous reconciliation, or the lack thereof, is standing in the way economic development. We want to get our pipelines built. We have some big projects that are going to wealth producers. The government is struggling to accomplish one of its main goals, indigenous reconciliation, which, of course, is great for indigenous communities but also good for Canada's economy. We need to get our economy going again.
Living off of borrowed money, in fact, does not create wealth. It redistributes wealth from future generations to this generation. That is a fair comment. How are we going to fund a pharmacare program? Is it going to be through borrowing money, which future generations are going to have to pay off, or are we going to create the wealth that will allow us to pay for a very rich pharmacare plan?
This brings me directly to the topic of the day. The NDP motion would have this House accept the Hoskins advisory council report and the implementation of a national pharmacare program based on that. The motion also says the House would “urge the government to reject the U.S.-style private patchwork approach to drug coverage, which protects the profits of big pharmaceutical and insurance companies”. Apparently the NDP does not like to see big companies making profits. Let me share my personal experience in the business world prior to coming to Ottawa.
In my previous life we employed many people. We had to pay competitive salaries and part of the competition was to have a very good, robust group benefits plan for the employees. If we did not offer that to future employees, they could go to other employers, so it was a very competitive world to get the best and the brightest people working for us. Our group benefit plans always included a very good pharmacare plan.
I would suggest that, contrary to what the NDP is suggesting, insurance companies can do a very good job. I would also say that big pharma has done a good job. Competition is good for pharmacare and I am afraid that the NDP motion would undermine that competition, which has served us very well over so many years.
The NDP does not like the patchwork that is currently in place and serving most Canadians quite well. Canadians are rightly proud of our universal public health care plan, but maybe it is not as good as we think it is. It is being challenged all the time. We keep saying that we do not want a two-tiered health care system. Just the fact that we have to say it suggests that it is being challenged.
I would tell the New Democratic Party not to ignore or completely write off a patchwork because it has served us very well for so many years. I will give the NDP credit for drawing to the attention of this House that there are some Canadians who fall through the cracks and I would support helping those people.