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Results: 1 - 15 of 60
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-12 13:30 [p.2006]
Madam Speaker, we know that the Liberals have been embarking on this process of bringing in universal pharmacare for Canadians for 23 years now. As we are still embarking on this slow journey to get there, we have a motion before us in the House. Given that we have a plan, which has been laid out by the Hoskins report that the government itself had commissioned, will the member be supporting this motion?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-12 13:33 [p.2006]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
Today we are talking about an NDP motion on something we have been advocating for a very long time. It is for the government to act on bringing a universal comprehensive single-payer pharmacare system to Canadians.
This has been a long-time dream of the NDP. In fact, 53 years ago, Tommy Douglas brought to us medicare. This is what Canadians itemize as one of the single proudest moments in our Canadian history: to ensure that Canadians can see the doctors and get the medical services they need. This is unlike south of the border, where people in the United States literally cannot access the medical attention they need, and people die from that situation. We are the envy of the universe. To complete that dream of Tommy Douglas, it has always the vision of the CCF and the NDP to bring in a comprehensive universal single-payer pharmacare program.
We know that the Liberals have said they support this idea and have said so for a very long time. In fact, to be more precise, for exactly 23 years they have said that they would support it. Now we are in a situation of a minority government, so let us hope, and I hope with all of my heart, that in this Parliament we will implement a universal single-payer comprehensive pharmacare system. That is what our motion is pushing for. That is what we want to see, and I believe that is what Canadians want to see.
In fact, out of the government's own consultative process with its own council came the Hoskins report, with 60 unequivocal recommendations laying out a concise plan for achieving this goal. The report highlights a number of things that warrant attention in this House.
Just so we know, some 7.5 million Canadians do not have adequate prescription coverage. That is to say, some 7.5 million Canadians cannot get the medication they need. Sixteen per cent of the people in Canada went without medication for heart disease, for cholesterol or for hypertension because of cost.
The amount of prescription-drug spending paid out of pocket in Canada in 2016 was $7.6 billion. That is a lot of money coming out of the pockets of everyday Canadians, money that they could otherwise use to support their family if there were a universal pharmacare program. The government talks all the time about how it wants to support middle-class Canadians; implementing universal pharmacare would support every single Canadian, including middle-class Canadians.
The people who are perhaps hardest hit because they cannot access a pharmacare program are women. Fewer women have employer health benefits compared to men. Women are more likely to report noncompliance to their prescription medication because of costs, not because they do not want to comply but because they cannot afford it.
Cost-related noncompliance is a common problem among the indigenous community as well, and people between 18 and 44 years old, people with lower health status and people with lower incomes also often cannot access the medication they need because they cannot afford it.
There is no question in my mind that it is time to act. I know some members will say that we cannot proceed with this because the provinces and territories say they do not want to. One of the issues that provinces and territories have tabled and put on the record is that they need the government to ensure that the health transfer payments are kept up. If the Liberals actually wanted to do something about this and ensure that negotiations go well with provinces and territories, they would ensure that the health transfer payments are actually provided.
Instead of adopting the Harper Conservatives' cuts to the health transfer payments, the government could say, “No, we are not going to take that path. We are not going to go down the path of the Harper Conservatives. In fact, we will fully fulfill our requirements and responsibility for health care transfer payments.” When we do that, I fully expect that the provinces and territories will come to the table and earnestly negotiate with the Canadian government to put in place a universal comprehensive single-payer pharmacare program.
I will share a story with members.
During the campaign, like everyone else in the House, I went door knocking. One constituent's story has shaken me to this day. He is a senior who just recently retired. He worked hard all his life and paid his taxes and all of those things. As he aged, he became ill. He has a number of complicated health conditions, and his medication costs him about $1,000 a month. That is a lot of money for a senior on a fixed income.
He told me that he had some savings and he could pay for this medication for a few months, but of course his savings will run out, and then what will he do? I think he told me that his savings would run out by this summer. He was very worried about what would happen when that occurred, because he would not be able to get the life-saving medication that he needs. He said to me, “You have to go and fight for a universal pharmacare program, not just for me but for my friends and other people like me.”
I took his words to heart, and here we are in this debate. I ask the government to support this motion before us and then get on with it and actually fully realize this motion and put it into reality. No more excuses. No more delays. No more “I can't do this and I can't do that.” No more saying that we support it and then decades later we are still talking about it. I do not want to come back to the House to have to debate this once again. I want to see this program in place, and Canadians want to see it as well.
This program will save lives. We know that. More importantly, or perhaps of equal importance for those people who talk about money, this program will save money as well. How often do we get to do this? We can have our cake and eat it too. This is the kind of program that we are talking about. We are in a minority government situation, and it can become reality. How about we fulfill that dream? How about we end the notion that Canada is the only country in the world that has a universal medicare program without pharmacare? How about we put that to bed once and for all, forever, by implementing universal pharmacare?
The government says that it wants to act, but I do not want to hear just words any more; I want to see this action in the budget. In the upcoming 2020 budget, I want to see the government allocate resources to get this done.
The Hoskins report, which I read page by page last night to get the full scope of its recommendations, has 60 recommendations. It outlines very clearly, step by step, how we can get this done and where the savings are, so the government cannot have the excuse of not having a blueprint. The government had this work done to counsel its work, and Dr. Hoskins and the team went out there and did this work, laying out in detail, step by step, how this could be done, so no more excuses.
The constituent I met during the campaign is in desperate need for the government to act. People in our community are in desperate need for the government to act. For members of Parliament, especially on the Liberal side, this is our moment to make that difference, to realize the legacy that Tommy Douglas has left us to fully implement universal medicare and pharmacare.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-12 13:45 [p.2008]
Madam Speaker, yes, it does bring out the Conservative side of the Liberals, because that is consistent with their action on many of their programs, not the least of which is universal pharmacare.
I would advise the member to read Dr. Hoskins' report, because that is what I did yesterday, and it answers all of these questions.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-12 13:46 [p.2008]
Madam Speaker, the Hoskins report said this:
Be bold, Canadians told us. Be brave, they appealed to us. But most of all, they reminded us to heed those uniquely Canadian values: looking out for one another, supporting neighbours and communities through tough times and treating each other with fairness.
That is the plan forward. I understand some provinces are saying that they do not have enough resources from the federal government. I would ask the Conservative members to check themselves, because it was the Harper government that cut the transfer payments to provinces and territories. Had it not done that, the provinces may well come to the table and say “Yes, we can do this.”
As for the provinces, Quebec may well want to opt out because it has a fairly robust pharmacare program. There is that opportunity, but that said, I would also ask it to think carefully before it exercised that option, because the universal pharmacare program could actually save Quebec money as well.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-12 13:48 [p.2009]
Madam Speaker, that is the whole point about a national universal pharmacare program. Buying bulk would save money, and that may help Quebec as well.
Quebec could opt out if it wishes to. Having stronger negotiating power with the pharmaceuticals will make a difference in terms of costs and the price of drugs for Quebec and across the country. This is a power we can have with a national pharmacare program.
The Liberals actually engaged with pharmaceutical companies more than 700 times in talking about the companies' needs. Perhaps it is time for the government to focus on what everyday Canadians need.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 14:29 [p.1884]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour said the government is not hearing from workers who cannot afford to stay home. I say to get out of the boardrooms and talk to the workers on the streets in our communities.
B.C. has its first case of community transmission, and yesterday we had our first death due to COVID-19. To protect the health and safety of Canadians, B.C.'s medical health officer has asked Canada to delay our cruise season.
Can the Prime Minister confirm that that he will accept this advice? Exactly what support will he be providing for the workers and businesses?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:30 [p.1919]
Mr. Speaker, when I rose to ask the Prime Minister about the failures of his national housing strategy, including the glaring absence of a housing strategy that would be led by indigenous people for rural, urban and northern indigenous people, I received the usual meaningless talking points, despite the Liberals pledge in 2017 with the introduction of the national housing strategy to address the housing crisis for Inuit, Métis and first nations people.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development even said on the public record that the Liberals were committed to a separate national urban indigenous housing strategy by and for urban indigenous people. However, years later there is still no action.
Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-aboriginal people to become homeless. When I pointed out that 40% of the homeless population in Vancouver was indigenous people, the Prime Minister was busy patting himself on the back with self-congratulatory rhetoric that I do not even think he realized how severe the housing crisis was and how grossly disproportionate it was effecting urban, rural and northern indigenous communities.
Across the country, indigenous peoples are experiencing the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25% of indigenous people living in poverty, despite making up only 5% of Canada's population. High poverty rates for indigenous people are part of the continued legacy of colonization. Ignoring the housing crisis they are facing will only result in having these numbers increase and further perpetuate the impact of colonization.
With a staggering 87% of indigenous households not living on reserve lands, we need to have an affordable housing strategy to address the needs of indigenous people living in the rural, urban and northern parts of Canada. It is a matter of urgency requiring immediate action that is consistent with international human rights law.
This strategic approach must be founded upon cultural-based practice and action, led by indigenous people for indigenous people. No more kicking the can down the road. Canadians need to see the allocation of the necessary funds to support the national housing strategy in budget 2020 and action for a urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy led by and for indigenous peoples. The government promised to do better, Canadians expected better and the government must do better.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-10 18:37 [p.1920]
Mr. Speaker, "There is a specific kind of hypocrisy when government over-promises but continues to under-deliver, which serves nothing more than to damage an already fraught relationship. In the emerging political momentum on tackling the indigenous housing crisis and homelessness, urban and rural indigenous stakeholders cannot be an afterthought in the process." That is a direct quote from Marc Maracle, the Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation representative.
The comments from the parliamentary secretary, while political, do not serve the work that needs to be done. The fact remains the government ignored and did not even see the need to address the urban, rural and northern indigenous communities' homelessness crisis. Now it is talking about it but that talk has gone on for years and years and it is now time to act.
The NDP is always ready to see action become reality. We will be at the table at every turn, pushing the government until indigenous communities in urban, rural and northern communities are housed.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 13:21 [p.1789]
Madam Speaker, I am a little taken aback both by the member's comments and the answers to the member's questions. It appears to me as though she is a climate denier. I wonder if the member is aware of the fact that the world is literally on fire. Australia has a wildfire that is going on and it is real. It is climate action that we see that needs to be addressed.
We have extreme climate situations in British Columbia and Alberta. We have had forest fires. That is very real. Unless and until we actually get on with dealing with the climate crisis, this will continue.
If we want to talk about economic prosperity, then we need to address what is in front of us today. Otherwise, future generations will have to pay for it and that is not acceptable.
Will the member simply acknowledge that there is a climate crisis before us today?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 15:23 [p.1809]
Mr. Speaker, earlier in the hon. member's comments, she talked about her passion for food security issues, particularly for lower-income people.
To that end, my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway tabled a private member's bill for a school food program. In my riding of Vancouver East, we have many lower-income communities where food is simply not accessible or available for many low-income families. If we could in fact provide for a national food program at the schools, I think that would go a long way toward addressing these concerns.
I wonder if that is something the member would support.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 16:37 [p.1820]
Mr. Speaker, one of the key issues before us in terms of diversifying our economy is we know that Alberta has gone through a boom and bust cycle. It has been that way for a long time. We are into a different phase in terms of where we are with respect to the climate crisis. Part of the issue is to look at how we can ensure that the workers in Alberta and elsewhere have alternatives.
To that end, I wonder if the member would call on the government to embark on the new green deal and to actually do a just transition initiative for the workers in Alberta and elsewhere in the oil and gas sector.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 17:07 [p.1824]
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a motion that speaks to transparency, openness and accountability, more information that needs to be provided to Canadians. To that end, I am particularly interested in where the government is going to get the money to support the Trans Mountain expansion project. We now know that the dollar figure is projected to be $12.7 billion. Is that going to be off-book financing? Where is that money going to come from? I wonder whether the member can speak to that and, in the spirit of transparency, let Canadians know.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 17:35 [p.1828]
Madam Speaker, all throughout the day, the Conservatives have been talking about and speaking against government spending. It has been interesting. I would like to point something out and invite the member's comments.
The Canada Development Investment Corporation, which is the parent company to TMX, admitted in its second quarterly report that TMX is a risky project with no guaranteed economic returns. If we account for items like interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, it would leave a net loss of $140 million annually. As we know, this project is now costing taxpayers to the tune of $12.7 billion for the construction of the expansion. That means taxpayers will be on the hook.
If the Conservatives are against government spending, could the member tell the House that he is against the TMX project? It was purchased with taxpayers' money and now taxpayers' money is being spent on the expansion.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 17:51 [p.1831]
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member this question, because the issue around transparency and accountability of course is related—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-03-09 17:52 [p.1831]
Madam Speaker, I know the Conservatives like to think of themselves as a group that aspires to be transparent and accountable to Canadian taxpayers with respect to their money. However, on the question around the TMX project, what we do know is that it is financed by Canadian taxpayers and is managed by Export Development Canada, which is used only for high-risk projects, because they do not qualify for typical commercial financing.
This is what the Liberal government is doing with the TMX project. To that end, would it not make sense for the government to be open and transparent and to ensure that all of its business plan, if there is one, and I believe there is not one on the TMX project, is tabled in the House? Would that be something the Conservatives would support in the spirit of this motion?
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