Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the NDP's motion on universal pharmacare. I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.
I am going to talk about the affordability of having another government plan. Money does not grow on trees, but that is what the NDP would have us think: We can just wave a magic wand and $34 billion will appear to fund a universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable public prescription drug plan. That is what the Hoskins report says Canadians spent on prescription medication in 2018.
What will the federal government's contribution be to that very big cost? Where will that money come from? Will it come from increased taxes? Will it come from more borrowing by the federal government? Are we just going to keep adding to our national debt because our national debt is not quite as large as those of our trading partners? We have heard that quite often.
We often hear members opposite say that under their watch, one million Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. However, they failed to acknowledge that we went a further $80 to $100 billion in debt over that same period of time, and this during a time of full employment in a strong economy and good government revenues. If the government cannot balance a budget in good times, how is it going to manage the economy in the inevitable bad times? Of course, the government should not only be balancing the budget in good times but also be paying down debt. Under both Conservative and Liberal governments, that has been the tradition in Canada for many decades. Of course, these are not Chrétien or Martin Liberals; these are the other type of Liberals, the ones who think debt does not matter.
Pharmacare and medicare are primarily provincial matters. The federal government should be managing the national economy and staying out of the way of provincial governments so that they can do what they do best.
That brings me back to trees. Money can, in fact, grow out of trees. I am thinking of British Columbia trees, the ones that are not being harvested at the moment. There are a lot of reasons for that, including the lack of a softwood lumber treaty, the one that the government has failed to negotiate for us.
I have a great idea. Let us get our forest industry working again. Forestry is a wonderful renewable resource that could change the lives of many Canadians, yet it is being ignored. Let us get those revenues flowing again to the provincial coffers so that they can fund their provincial pharmacare plans and send revenues back to the federal government through income tax from fully employed Canadians.
While I am talking about resources, let me say that money also grows in the ocean, or at least it does when the west coast salmon industry is thriving, which it is not, for a lot of reasons, including ongoing mismanagement by the federal fisheries department. Let us pay more attention to that source of wealth. Let us get Canadian fishers out fishing again and paying taxes.
Money also grows in the ground. I am thinking of natural gas, for example, which is a potential big source of government revenues for my home province of B.C. Let us get the necessary infrastructure built so that we can start selling our clean, green liquid natural gas to the world. That can be a big part not only of our economy but also of Canada's contribution to the fight against global climate change.
Instead of economic development, we see railroad blockades by professional pipeline protesters thinly veiled as indigenous rights protectors.
Let us talk about indigenous reconciliation. This is—