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View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to discuss the motion tabled by the member for Vancouver Kingsway related to pharmacare. I too will be supporting this motion, because I believe and our government recognizes that the cost of drugs can directly affect the lives of Canadians.
Families should not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for the drugs they need. That is why we have committed to implementing universal pharmacare to ensure that all Canadians have equitable and affordable access to the medicines they need.
Today I would like to highlight how the federal government is supporting innovative research to advance drug discovery and develop new therapies to improve the health of Canadians.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is the main federal agency responsible for funding health research across Canada. Every year the Government of Canada, through this group, invests over $1 billion in research initiatives that will generate new knowledge and evidence and lead to better and more affordable treatments for Canadians. Clinical trials are the cornerstone of an evidence-based practice and ensure timely access to new drugs and treatments for Canadians.
In 2016, CIHR launched the innovative clinical trials initiative. With an annual investment of $11.7 million, this initiative is supporting research focused on the development and implementation of innovative methods in clinical research. This specific initiative is part of the larger strategy for patient-oriented research, a national coalition of federal, provincial and territorial partners dedicated to the integration of research into care.
The SPOR innovative clinical trials initiative will contribute to increasing Canadian competitiveness in innovative clinical trials research and provide a stimulus for researchers to adopt new methodologies to conduct clinical trials. It will also encourage collaboration with various stakeholders, including patients, decision-makers and key stakeholders.
Innovative clinical trials use designs that are alternative to traditional trials methodologies. These new methods can reduce the cost of conducting trials, reduce the amount of time needed to answer research questions and increase the relevance of research findings to patients, health care providers and policy-makers. The direct outcome of these new methods is improved effectiveness of the trials while keeping the same high safety and effectiveness standards for the drugs. This will result in lowering the cost of drug development, ensuring that new, affordable and effective drugs are available for Canadians.
As part of this initiative, CIHR is supporting the CLEAN Meds project, led by researchers at Unity Health Toronto. Through a randomized controlled trial, researchers are investigating the effects of providing patients with free and convenient access to a selected set of medications. Each person is randomly assigned to either receive usual access to medications or to receive access to essential medications at no cost.
Preliminary findings from the CLEAN Meds trial demonstrate that the distribution of essential medicines at no charge for one year increased adherence to treatment medicines and improved some disease-specific health outcomes. These findings could help inform changes to medicine access policies such as publicly funding essential medicines.
Through the innovative clinical trials initiative, CIHR is also supporting a team led by Dr. Jacob Udell at the Women's College Hospital in Toronto. This work is looking at ways of leveraging big data to facilitate recruitment of patients in clinical trials, measurement of patient characteristics and follow-up of patient outcomes. It is expected that this approach will transform how clinical trials are conducted in Canada, which would ultimately contribute to lower drug development costs.
Leading researchers across the country are also conducting research to improve the safety and effectiveness of drugs. For example, CIHR is supporting a research project led by Dr. Michal Abrahamowicz at McGill University that aims to improve monitoring of adverse drug reactions. While most new drugs help improve patients' health, some may have important unintended side effects and others may be less effective than existing drugs. This research will allow for the development of new statistical methods that will allow for more accurate assessments of the safety and effectiveness of different drugs used by Canadians, and help to reduce the risk of serious adverse events.
Of course, underpinning all of this research are CIHR's research investments into the development of new drugs and therapies. For example, through CIHR's investigator-initiated programs, our government is investing $4.7 million in a research program led by Dr. Hanns Lochmüller at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, right here in Ottawa, to discover and test several new therapies to treat neuromuscular diseases. Over 50,000 Canadians have a neuromuscular disease, of which there are over 150 types. Neuromuscular disease is associated with progressive muscle weakness, disability and early death, and can cause significant economic burdens on families that are affected.
Through his research, Dr. Lochmüller is using a combination of genomics, molecular biology, animal models and clinical trials to improve the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disease. His objectives are to reveal the genetic mechanisms of 20 new genes associated with neuromuscular diseases, discover five new therapies and study seven therapies, four of which were repurposed and three new. The hope is that this research will lead to new ways to treat neuromuscular diseases.
Through the Canada research chairs program, CIHR is also supporting research led by Dr. Weihong Song at the University of British Columbia on Alzheimer's disease. Dementia has a significant and growing impact in Canada. We know that there are more than 419,000 Canadians aged 65 and older diagnosed with dementia. The impact of dementia on individuals, their families and the health care system is significant. In the absence of a cure or effective therapy, the total annual health care costs and out-of-pocket caregiver costs for Canadians with dementia are expected to exceed $16 billion by 2031. As the Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer's Disease, Dr. Song is studying the cause of dementia found in Alzheimer's disease and working to discover new drugs targeting Alzheimer's disease.
CIHR is also supporting groundbreaking research by Dr. Mick Bhatia at McMaster University in the hopes of uncovering new treatments for leukemia, a cancer that starts in blood stem cells.
Our government is committed to accelerating medical breakthroughs for people affected by rare diseases. Approximately one million people are affected by more than 7,000 different rare diseases in Canada. These diseases often appear at birth or emerge in early childhood. One-third of children with rare diseases die before their fifth birthday. For the vast majority of these conditions, there is no treatment available.
Canada, through CIHR and Genome Canada, is a founding member of the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium, which was established in April 2011 with a goal to develop 200 new therapies for rare diseases by 2020. I am pleased to note that the consortium had surpassed this target a few years early, with over 279 new medicinal products and therapies for rare diseases developed by 2017.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that ensuring equitable access to necessary medicines is a priority for our government.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, we know we are embarking on a path toward universal pharmacare for this country, and our government believes it is necessary to support Canadians. As to how it will roll out in the provinces and territories, a whole set of negotiations and discussions need to be had before anybody can commit to what it might look like going forward.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, as I said at the outset, I will be supporting this motion.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, health care funding has been a priority of this government. We know, for example, that transfers to the provinces are nearly $42 billion. Since 2014, there has been an additional $10 billion going to provinces, much of it aimed at taking care of issues like mental health and home care services. Now we want to move to a universal pharmacare program. This government is committed to making that happen and I fully support it.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I have spoken with many different groups and organizations, including pharmacists, and as I have stated very clearly, my position on universal pharmacare is that I support it and support what this government is trying to do.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2020-03-12 14:07 [p.2012]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the organizers, sponsors, racers and volunteers of Cain's Quest 2020. Labrador is the home for Cain's Quest snowmobile race.
Through some of the most rugged and challenging lands in Canada's north, this race is one of tremendous endurance. Through 3,100 kilometres of land, over 19 checkpoints with 100 snowmobilers, it is one of the most enduring races on the planet today. This year, we also had two women's teams, one from Canada and the U.S. and one from Finland, and I want to give a big shout-out to them. Cain's Quest really pushes both the individual and the machine to the limits. It takes skill, stamina and determination.
I want to congratulate all those who took part and the winners of the cup, Rod Pye of Lodge Bay and Darryl Burdett of Cartwright, the Mighty Haulers, on their championship win in Cain's Quest.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, my riding and communities across the country depend on the Canadian Coast Guard to keep our waterways safe and flowing all year round. Although we have been lucky with the light ice season this year, it has been detrimental to coastal communities in the past. Can the minister tell us how the Coast Guard is ensuring that our waters remain safe and open during the winter months?
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-03-12 15:07 [p.2023]
Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador is facing incredible financial struggles and we need the government to take real action, but it keeps failing. After the recent state of emergency in Newfoundland, New Democrats called on the government to help workers who lost up to a week's wages. The Liberals said they would help, but those workers are still waiting.
Now the government is telling Canadians it is here to help workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, who will lose wages that they will not be able to replace. Since the Liberals still have not delivered on the commitments they made for an eight-day state of emergency in my province, how can any Canadian believe they are going to come through this time?
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:33 [p.1969]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member first and foremost for sharing her story and for providing the House with this opportunity to speak about mental health.
According to Statistics Canada, one in three Canadians will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental health is influenced by a number of factors, including life experience and social and economic conditions. Our government recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion and prevention alongside treatment and recovery.
For this reason, we have worked with our partners and stakeholders to put in place community-based programs and initiatives that promote mental health and contribute to the prevention of mental illness.
Our government is also committed to increasing the availability of high-quality mental health services for all Canadians. Through budget 2017, we provided provinces and territories with $5 billion over 10 years to improve access to mental health and addiction services. These targeted investments will address specific gaps in the availability of mental health services, including those for children and youth.
Allow me to illustrate, through concrete examples, how these investments are expected to directly help Canadians suffering from mental illness.
With this funding, in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador we will add new community crisis houses to provide a safe place for people experiencing a mental health crisis. Several models will be explored for these beds, based on the emerging needs of each of the province's regional health authorities.
Quebec will improve accommodation and community retention services to provide psychiatric hospitalizations and reduce psychiatric ward stays.
The Northwest Territories will contract an itinerant private counselling team that will provide surge capacity assistance to individuals struggling with mental illness through timely crisis supports when local resources are either unavailable or overwhelmed.
Saskatchewan will establish residential options that include intensive supports for individuals with serious and persistent mental health issues.
With federal funds, Ontario has committed to develop and provide new services in supportive units, such as daily living supports and case management for those living with mental illness, those with addictions, and those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
In Ontario, as well as in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, federal investments will also support other initiatives that integrate mental health and addictions services into supportive housing programs, justice services, and education settings, all of which will have a particular focus on youth.
To provide support for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, our government is also investing close to $3 million over five years to support the development of the Canada suicide prevention service through Crisis Services Canada. This service connects people in Canada to confidential 24/7 crisis support and resources through trained responders.
Finally, to promote child and youth mental health, our government is also investing $1.1 million in 2019-20, $4.7 million in 2020-21 and $4.9 million from 2021-22 and onwards through the mental health promotion innovation fund. The fund will support the development of new and promising interventions that aim to address the underlying determinants of mental health in children and young people throughout Canada.
To sum up, mental health is a priority for the federal government, and we will continue to work with all our partners to make improvements in this area.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:38 [p.1970]
Madam Speaker, I know my hon. colleague is passionate about this issue and I encourage her to reach out and work with all the departments.
I am sure the member knows that the provinces determine where most of the federal money given to them goes. That is why we were so adamant in earmarking that money for mental health initiatives.
We are committed to a comprehensive approach to mental health, one that embraces promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery. We are investing in a range of culturally appropriate mental health initiatives and programs that take into account social, economic and environmental factors, such as income, housing and education. We are also working with our provincial and territorial partners to improve access to mental health services for Canadians.
As mentioned, through our commitment of $5 billion over 10 years in budget 2017, investments have been made in appropriate and cost-effective mental health services for Canadians. We will ensure that the provinces continue to do so.
The challenge of addressing mental health issues requires the combined efforts of all levels of government and many stakeholders, as well as all members in this House.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:52 [p.1972]
Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for his recent election and passionately representing his constituents in the House. I too am from a very large rural riding. I love to say the land-mass of my riding is bigger than Switzerland. I have 217 beautiful little communities. Therefore, the member should come and visit the west coast of Newfoundland at any time.
The Government of Canada believes in the importance of investing in infrastructure. We believe in the promise we made to Canadians to create good jobs, grow the economy and invest in resilient and sustainable communities.
The over 52,000 projects across the country that we have supported through the investing in Canada plan are tangible proof of how we are delivering on that promise. Over 4,800 of those are right here in Ontario.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about how we review the projects submitted for funding approval and to highlight how the federal funding is available now for provincial, territorial and municipal priorities. We want all Canadians to see and feel the impacts of the investments.
Under the majority of Canada's infrastructure programs, once the projects are approved, partners can start their projects and spend immediately. The flow of federal funds occurs when the claims are submitted to the department for reimbursement. We want to ensure that the projects are reviewed and approved as quickly as possible. That is why we continue to work closely with our partners to explore how we can improve the timeliness of our flow of funds.
Through the investing in Canada infrastructure program, we are investing over $33 billion across the country through bilateral agreements with each and every province and territory. The program investments all aim to improve the quality of life of Canadians by investing in infrastructure through four funding streams: public transit; green; community, culture and recreational; and rural and northern communities' infrastructure.
Specifically, the rural and northern communities' stream of the program dedicates $2 billion to addressing the unique infrastructure needs of these really rural and remote communities. Our investments are increasing economic growth and creating jobs within the infrastructure that improves peoples' quality of life. The investments are benefiting rural and remote communities across the country, but before a project can begin, an application has to be submitted.
Under this program, it is then up to provinces and territories to identify the projects, prioritize the projects and submit those projects for approval. Each application is then assessed to determine whether it fits within the applicable funding stream or whether federal environmental assessment or indigenous consultations are required.
By working closely with our partners, we are aiming to get shovels in the ground faster to deliver real results for Canadian communities.
I understand the member's question about during the writ period. I too was impacted by that, and that is just the way things go. During the writ period, nothing happens. If it is a sitting member, it is considered a feather in his or her cap, so to speak. That is why nothing goes on during the writ period.
In fairness to my colleague, as he is new in the House, it takes a while for the new departments to get staffed up and under way, especially when a new minister is in place.
I am proud of the work our government is doing to ensure our communities grow and succeed now and into the future. I look forward to working with my colleague anytime we can address this issue further.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-03-11 18:57 [p.1973]
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, we are investing $33 billion through the bilateral agreements with each of the provinces and territories. The funding is available now for them to start their projects immediately.
We have made important investments in infrastructure in every region. Our goal remains to work collaboratively, responsibly and quickly to invest in infrastructure. However, the application process is critical and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure these investments will make the lives of Canadians better.
My colleague commented about the weather. This winter, Newfoundland and Labrador has seen mountains of snow and I know it will have an impact on its construction season as well. I agree with the member that we need to do all we can to ensure we get the funding out to the respective communities in a timely manner.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2020-03-10 11:54 [p.1859]
Madam Speaker, the member of the NDP mentioned a couple of things of interest. One was he mentioned the original status of the trade agreement and that leaving it as it is probably would not have been a bad thing. Has he forgotten about the tariffs that were imposed under that trade agreement, with its lack of defining things? There were the tariffs that were put on aluminum, that were put on steel, that were put on wood products, paper and whatnot. He has forgotten that.
The member mentioned the corporate free trade deal. A lot of the corporations that are in favour of this trade deal employ hundreds of thousands of people across this country, many of them unionized employees, to their benefit. In my riding, Ocean Choice International applauds the trade agreement because it enables the company to open markets free of tariffs and to provide well-paying jobs to the people who work for that company. Can the member say whether he still supports that, or whether he would just as soon those corporations did not have that ability in those free trade agreements?
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2020-03-09 14:10 [p.1796]
Mr. Speaker, it is a tale as old as time: Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador. It is usually a story of two friends. However, last night it was a battle of the rocks of the rings for the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier. Team Gushue, Olympic gold medallists, two-time world champions, three-time Brier winners and the pride of the Rock, took home the 2020 Brier in a nearly perfect seven to three win over Team Alberta. Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker and our boy Brad Gushue brought home the Brier cup to where it rightfully belongs, settling yet another rivalry once and for all.
As we watched from home, the crowd cheering and celebrating along with the team in Kingston, Ontario, last night, we could have sworn they were back home at Mile One stadium in St. John's with their hometown crowd. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are proud to be a part of Team Gushue and we are certainly proud to call them our own.
“Congratulations, hurry home and, as always, hurry, hurry hard.”
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-28 12:49 [p.1755]
Madam Speaker, I will say at the outset that I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. I am very happy to do so because I think he has a significant contribution to make to the debate, as has been noticed in the past.
I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak in this debate because I think it is an important one. It is an opportunity to add three more opposition debate days to the calendar. That may be technical and require a change to the statutory rules, the instruments of the House, the Standing Orders. However, it is an addition that is very valid and welcome in this minority Parliament.
There is a special reason for that. I will not go into the reasons why the Conservatives were prompted to do this in this particular instance, but I will say that we are dealing with a government that is acting in a manner that is not in keeping with the expectations of Canadians to co-operate with other parties to deliver a good government. There are many examples of that.
I will go over some of the valid and excellent motions that were brought forward by our party on opposition days over the last number of years. These motions were extremely important to the future of the country and to the people of Canada. I hope that those listening will agree that in the last election no party was given a majority. We had had four years of a Liberal majority, and people said they did not want that. They wanted the parties to work together to deliver good government.
What we are getting from the government is that its agenda is the only agenda that matters. That is all it wants to do. The government wants to run the House as if it had a majority, and it is not really prepared to listen to what the opposition has to say.
Here is an opportunity for the Liberals to agree that we need to hear more from the opposition. We might ask the opposition to be more constructive sometimes, but the opposition is here to provide an alternative and to hold the government to account. We have tried over many years, including in this Parliament, to provide constructive opposition day motions.
The first example is the most recent, which occurred on February 26. It was a motion calling on the government to change its proposed tax cuts by targeting benefits to those families earning less than $90,000 a year. The savings could then be used to add a dental care program for those who do not have a dental program. That was an important debate. The government did not listen to it, but that is its prerogative.
Canadians were able to listen to the proposal to use part of the $6.85 billion per year that the government proposes to spend on a so-called middle-class tax cut, of which at least $1.6 billion is going to those who are making in excess of $90,000 a year, to create a dental plan.
The tax cut will give those who are making in excess of $90,000 a year a $340 break on their taxes, while people who make less than $15,000 will save $1. That is the middle-class tax cut for them.
We said take the top part of that, the $1.6 billion from those making more than $90,000 a year, and use a portion of it, not even all of it, to ensure that those who do not have dental care plans, like every member in the House has, would get an opportunity to have access to dental care.
That is a very important motion, a very important provision and a very important proposal to compromise with the government's stated aim to have what it calls a middle-class tax cut.
That is only one example, and examples are repeated time and again in a review of NDP motions in the past. In May 2019, there was a motion by our leader, the member for Burnaby South, for a declaration of an environment and climate emergency. We have had considerable motions over the last number of years on the importance of the climate and concerns about climate change.
We had a motion in February of last year addressing Canada's housing crisis, which is still a significant issue and one that the government is struggling to have credibility on. This keeps the issue on the table and it gives an opportunity to the government to see where to go if it wants co-operation in the House, which is what Canadians want.
In November of the previous year we had a motion on service standards for Canadian veterans. We have still not seen the results of that, but it was brought to the House by an opposition day motion. Members had a full day to debate the importance of veterans getting the services they need, getting the attention they need, and getting beyond this continuous and long-standing wait-list, which is depriving them of the services they need and are entitled to. It is still going on, regardless of the fact that this was brought in during a majority government. Maybe in a minority government with more opposition days these issues would actually get dealt with, because the government will be told by parliamentarians elected by all Canadians what the priorities are.
This is certainly a big priority for me, for our party and for the people of my province. Indeed, it is a big priority for the whole country, which has the important issue of support for veterans on their minds.
We have discussed other issues that are of world importance, such as our debate in June 2017 on nuclear disarmament. What could be more important, in terms of making the world a safer place for our children and the future, than moving forward on the motion of nuclear disarmament in a world that is getting a bit more uncertain as time goes on?
We introduced a bill on a universal pharmacare program. That was debated in the House in October 2017, thanks to the New Democratic Party, and we now have legislation before the House. It is a matter that at least has the attention of the Liberals, but I have not seen any sign that we are going to have a public system that Canadians want, similar to what is contained in the Canada Health Act.
Issues that keep coming back again and again were sometimes brought to the House by New Democrats, not necessarily for the first time, but in a forceful and positive way looking for solutions.
A motion on care for first nations children was brought forward by the member for Timmins—James Bay in November 2016.
I could go on but I will go back to one issue that comes up again and again, and I am talking about the motions brought forward by the New Democratic Party on climate change. We can go as far back as February 2007, with a motion on the Kyoto protocol, which the previous government got rid of.
In 2007, a climate change action plan was brought forward by former leader Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party. That was more than 12 years ago. Climate change action has been on the NDP agenda for more than a decade. Climate change has now reached a crisis point. We recognized that crisis many years ago. The government is now at least listening, but where are we in terms of enforceable standards? Where is the plan? Where are the timetables? Where is the reporting back to the House?
These issues are still there, but they were brought to the House in important opposition day motions.
I have one minute left and I am happy to devote it to a motion brought forward by my former colleague Romeo Saganash on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also known as UNDRIP. This is an extremely important resolution from the United Nations supported by the Government of Canada but not yet brought into force. It was adopted by the Government of British Columbia. It is extremely important in terms of what we are dealing with these days with the Wet'suwet'en in British Columbia.
Opposition day motions are so important for Canadians and for this House of Parliament. We should have more of them.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-28 13:00 [p.1757]
Madam Speaker, I absolutely agree with the member's comments about what Canadians did. His party received more votes than the Liberal Party, so clearly there is a division among Canadians as to what kind of government they want and who they want to lead it. Canadians have decided that there should be a minority Parliament with representation from five parties in this House. The mantra from the date of the election has been that Canadians want these parties to work together. We have not seen a lot of evidence of that to date.
I am hoping that perhaps the Liberals will support this resolution and give an indication that they do want to work together, and maybe we will have fewer partisan debates and more co-operation and collaboration.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-28 13:03 [p.1757]
Madam Speaker, I am not sure it is important to refer back to a debate that took place in a majority Parliament.
We are talking about a motion before the House to adapt to the minority situation that we have. We need mechanisms to be able to demonstrate the kind of co-operation required to identify the important issues and hopefully seek, if not unanimous consent, the majority consent in this House, as we did, for example, in establishing the Canada-China committee just a few weeks ago.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-28 13:03 [p.1757]
Madam Speaker, that is a very important question.
I will tell the hon. member that I was elected for the first time to this House in 1987, and I am back again. I have to say that I have not lost my political idealism. I am here for the same reason now that I was here in 1987, and that was to build on the ideas of creating a better world.
That is why I debated the dental care motion the other day. I was very disappointed the member and her colleagues chose not to support it for some other reason, but I think they agreed with the principle that everyone should have dental care.
We should be finding reasons to support these things and finding solutions as opposed to reasons not to vote for something. That way members will maintain their idealism. Hopefully we will be back here to talk about that in the future.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, growing our economy and protecting the environment is important work that transcends any single project. Our government is committed to working with Alberta and the energy resource sector to move good projects forward.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that one of the things we have to do is develop a net-zero plan. That has to be done with the provinces and territories, and it has to be done with industry. Indeed, it has to be done very soon because the investment climate all around the world is changing. It is changing.
They are going to jurisdictions that take climate change seriously and we need to make sure that we get—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, the investment community around the world is coalescing around the net-zero marker. There is no way we can get to net-zero as a country without Canadian oil and gas, in the same way there is no way we can have a competitive, thriving oil and gas industry in this country without net-zero.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-25 12:24 [p.1491]
Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's presentation. He said that he likes apple pie and that this would be very nice, but that, as usual, the NDP did not say how we would pay for it. Well, we have said exactly how we would pay for it.
The government is proposing to spend over $6 billion on a tax cut for what it is calling the middle class, people with up to $150,000 a year. If we take the top part of that, over $90,000 in income, it gives us $1.5 billion, which would be better spent on people who desperately need it for the dental care they do not have now.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-25 12:30 [p.1492]
Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to have an opportunity to speak to the motion before the House. The motion calls upon the government to reallocate a portion of the resources that will be spent on a tax cut for what is called the middle class to people who really need it and do not have dental care.
It is my pleasure to do this because this is a historic occasion. It is not very often that members of the House of Commons have the opportunity to pass a resolution that would benefit millions of Canadians now and in future generations. This is the first step in ensuring greater equality in this country, an equality about something that is extremely important to individuals.
Dental care is pretty basic for people who can afford it. Their income allows them to pay for the services of a dentist to get their teeth cleaned, annual inspections, X-rays, if needed, and whatever else goes with that.
Madam Speaker, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. I am very happy to do that and I look forward to his speech as well.
He, along with me and other members of our caucus, are very much in favour of ensuring that everybody in Canada has access to quality dental care. It should already be a part of our health care system. In fact, in 1964, it was part of the design of medicare to include dental care, but during the negotiations and when it was passed, dental care was left out.
What we have is a gap. When someone breaks his or her wrist, the person can go to a hospital or a doctor and have a cast put on. The person can get the physiotherapy at the hospital that is needed. The person can be looked after. However, when people have a cavity or they break a tooth or they need work done to ensure their oral health, they have to pay for it. Why is that? There was a failure to follow through on the promise and hope of a general health care system that would include dental care. Of course, pharmacare was also part of the original design.
I go back to generations ago to the great leader, the first leader of the national NDP when it was formed, Tommy Douglas. He campaigned for many decades to ensure there was greater equality in obtaining health care for people in this country. That is exactly what this motion is aimed at as well.
We joined the campaign. We put this forward as an idea that we would want to put in place. We campaigned on it. We let it be known. People were very interested for reasons that were fairly obvious to me, knowing as I do, and I am sure hon. members know that when we talk about the middle class in this country, that is a pretty vague notion. I do not think the minister is able to tell us who is included in that.
We do know that the people who do not have and cannot afford dental care know who they are and they do not think they are in the middle class. They know they are not in a position to have what others have and are entitled to. This motion would give all those people the right to dental care just the same as everybody else.
This motion comes about because of the Liberal government's plan, and it promised this, of having a middle-class tax cut. What do the Liberals mean by that? We do not know, but we do know the plan the Liberals put forward is going to cost in excess of $6 billion per year once it is fully in place. That $6 billion is a lot of money. It is essentially taxpayers' money that is now being collected which the government proposes to spend out of general revenues to give a tax cut to certain people.
That tax cut would go to people who earn up to $130,000 per year. The maximum benefit is $347 per year, I believe. That would go to the people who are in the upper income bracket. The lower we go down on the scale, the less the benefit is. When one gets down below $40,000, I think the benefit is about zero.
Who is this benefiting? Is this benefiting people who do not have an income to pay the kind of tax that would benefit from this? Is it going to people who do not need it?
The Liberals can say they are going to have a middle-class tax cut, and they will fulfill their promise, but this is a Parliament that is supposed to work together. We could make a significant improvement to this plan by saying that the Liberals could do their tax cut but we should ask why they are giving it to people who are already making $90,000 or more a year. That $300, or $340 maximum, is not going to change their lives. They might like to have $300; who would not? However, I question whether they need it in the same sense as people who are in a situation where they cannot afford dental care, and do not have access to it. It could change their lives.
I say that because dental care is extremely important to one's health and well-being. Not only is it important to one's health and well-being, but if we think of children growing up who do not have access to dental care, it affects their well-being, their health, their digestion, and their social standing.
Everybody in this House knows there is a big divide in this country. There is a divide between people who have good teeth and people who do not have access to the care that is required to make sure they have proper oral health. That is not fair. It is a great inequality. It is one of the most unequal aspects of health care in Canada, because most dental care is not covered by public health insurance. Some emergency care is. Someone may have an abscess in a tooth, because the person has not had the opportunity to go to a dentist to have proper dental care, or to have cavities filled and the person is forced to wait and endure the pain that comes with that. The person will go to a hospital emergency room and have an emergency extraction which costs the health care system several hundred dollars, but the person no longer has a tooth. Then the person is affected by that for the rest of his or her life.
That is the reality. That is unfair and it is unnecessary. It is an inequality that can be fixed. We, in this House of Commons, have an opportunity today to pass a resolution that would allow that to change. We do not need to give a $300 tax break to someone making $125,000 a year. However, we do need to ensure that everybody has fair access to health care.
During the campaign, we announced our platform and we announced that program in particular. People were coming up to me in the streets. They had heard about this and wanted to know more. They thought it was great. I do not want to try to paint too weird a picture, but people asked me to look at their teeth and asked whether I thought they could get a job with the way their teeth looked. That is the reality. People know they are excluded from employment and certain social activities. It affects their lives in many ways.
I remember an older gentleman in his seventies was almost crying, telling me how he had had cancer and as a result had serious problems with his teeth. He had to get a couple of teeth replaced or refilled. He had some done that he thought were paid for by the province, but they were not. He had to pay for that himself. He said that he had to wait two years to save up enough money to fix his other teeth. That was terrible. He was not interested in voting or in participating. I told him that the way to change things was by voting for something he wants and needs. I hope he did. I did not check with him afterwards.
We are here now, and we have this opportunity to do this. I am calling on all members. This is a real historic opportunity for members on all sides of the House to say that this is something we could do collaboratively that would change the lives of millions of people in this country.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-25 12:40 [p.1493]
Madam Speaker, I have been on many committees and I do make recommendations. Recommendations have been made for many years about many things in the House.
This is an opportunity to do something. It is a first step toward a full national dental care program, but that requires a lot of work. It requires negotiations and fitting it into a full program, including pharmacare.
This is a first step, but let us do it. Let us take the money that would otherwise be given to people who do not need it and ensure it is available to people right now as a result of a very simple, straightforward measure for which the money is already allocated and which the government has already decided spend.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-25 12:41 [p.1493]
Madam Speaker, the member can call it anything he likes, but the result is paying less taxes. When the hon. member's party was in power, and I was here, the Conservatives called a lot of things “tax cuts”. They were not specifically taking a tax and chopping it; they were actually lowering taxes or doing something else.
The government has called this a middle-class tax cut, and the Liberals campaigned on it. I do not care what the member calls it or how it is implemented; it is spending taxpayer money that is now being collected and saying that we are going to give it back.
Tax cuts are actually expenditures of money. We are saying to spend the money on something that people actually need, in fact, desperately need and would change their lives. This $340 will not change the lives of anybody making more than $90,000 a year.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-25 12:44 [p.1494]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her support and for her personal story.
I could tell my own stories. I still have gaps in my jaw from the lack of full dental care when I was a child in a family of eight children. I do know of what the member speaks, as I am sure other members do. If they do not know it from their personal experience, they know it from their neighbours, friends and families, which is a good reason to see this as a good and positive measure.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2020-02-25 14:01 [p.1505]
Madam Speaker, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow has certainly been the theme song in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador this winter.
Indeed, all this snow has given us a magnificent white blanket for the winter carnivals.
I would like to think all the volunteers and groups in my riding, Long Range Mountains, who organized winter festivities in their communities.
This is also a huge boost to many not-for-profits as well as small businesses, especially those in the tourism industry.
Let us embrace winter and lace up our skates, go ice fishing, try downhill or cross-country skiing, or jump on a snowmobile and experience the hundreds of miles of groomed trails. The more adventurous can try zip lining, take a thermos of hot chocolate and go sliding with the family or, my favourite, snowshoeing with dogs.
There is nothing like a nice, hot cup of broth in the forest to make any winter outing a success.
Whatever their fancy, people can get out and enjoy, and we can continue to let it snow.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-21 11:02 [p.1376]
Mr. Speaker, the number of temporary workers in Canada is increasing. They are becoming a large part of the workforce, with short-term, temporary and contract work, and it is a disturbing trend. They earn 20% less than those with permanent jobs, have fewer or no benefits and little security. No wonder it has been called precarious work. It affects a lot of young people.
Over two million Canadians are in temporary jobs, more than 13% of those employed. In Atlantic Canada, it is worse: It is 21% in P.E.I., and in Newfoundland and Labrador it is 26%.
Workers at Canada Post in St. John's are fed up. One plant has 90 temporary workers out of a workforce of 200, nearly half, and some have been with Canada Post for five to 10 years. The corporation seems determined to rely more and more on temporary workers by replacing retiring or transferred employees with temps.
The Liberal government and the minister should do what it takes to reverse that trend at Canada Post to ensure permanent full-time employment where possible. Canada Post should be setting an example by providing quality jobs along with quality service.
View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Red Deer, Saint John, Lethbridge, St. Albert, Fort McMurray and Vancouver are all planning to ban, or have banned, the harmful practice of conversion therapy. In 2019, our government committed to amending the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy.
Can the Minister of Justice share with the House what action our government is taking to put an end to this harmful practice?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, presenting reports from the interparliamentary delegations, I would like to report from the Canada-Europe interparliamentary delegation. Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports of Canada-Europe.
The first concerns the parliamentary mission to Portugal, in Lisbon from April 15 to 17, 2019.
The second concerns the third part of the 2019 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and parliamentary mission to Strasbourg, France, and Rome, Italy, from June 24 to 28, 2019.
We are busy folks over here, so the third concerns the fourth part of the 2019 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, from September 30 to October 4, 2019.
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