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Results: 1 - 15 of 34
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 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 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 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 Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-07 10:46 [p.1079]
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I get the enthusiasm of the member wanting to talk about matters dealing with the oil industry in Alberta, but I am just wondering what relevance it has to Bill C-3, which is the matter we are debating in the House today.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-07 11:12 [p.1084]
Madam Speaker, on January 17 a record-breaking blizzard hit Newfoundland and Labrador. The storm shut down many communities, including in the St. John's area, where the state of emergency lasted eight days. Under state of emergency laws, businesses were legally prevented from opening and streets were closed to traffic, preventing people from working. Many low-income workers lost up to a week's income, leaving people struggling to pay for rent and utilities. Lost revenue also hurt small businesses and restaurants.
The federal disaster assistance program supports provinces dealing with large-scale natural disasters, but specifically excludes loss of income.
We need the government to act now to allocate resources to support the people and businesses suffering the consequences of this storm and to look at establishing a permanent program to address lost income. The effects of climate change could lead to many more disasters of this magnitude and worse in the years to come.
Those who can least afford to endure the loss of income should not be the ones forced to bear it. If there is no existing program—
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-07 12:01 [p.1094]
Madam Speaker, the recent snowstorm that hit Newfoundland and Labrador shut down entire communities. Small business owners lost revenue and many workers, especially hourly and low-wage earners, lost a week's pay. The Liberals campaigned on a promise to help with lost income in case of disaster but we have not seen any action yet. Workers in my province need help now. Climate change will lead to more disasters like this.
Will the Liberals deliver on their promise and help those who need it right now?
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-02-07 12:12 [p.1096]
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to also present a petition from Canadians who are concerned about climate change and who call on the government to support Motion No. 1, a made-in-Canada green new deal, which calls on Canada to take bold and rapid action to tackle the climate emergency, address the worsening socio-economic and racial inequalities at the same time and to support workers impacted by the transition in the shift to a clean and renewable energy economy.
This crisis is real and it is approaching. We need to have a plan that will work and, at the same time, ensure that people who will be affected by climate change are supported in the transition to a green economy.
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