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Results: 1 - 5 of 5
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2018-11-27 12:38 [p.24014]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand today to support the initiatives of our government that are expressed through the bill as we implement the budget promises we made last spring, and to deliver real hope, real change and real possibilities for growth in the country for some of Canada's most vulnerable populations.
The main focus of my comments will be on the poverty reduction strategy. It is Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy with real targets and real tools to measure not just poverty as it exists across the country, but also as it exists in specific regions, centres, and within specific populations.
The new strategy is critical, because one of the goals of the government—and we hear the phrase repeated often—is not just growing a stronger middle class, but the support that is required to help people join that middle class, to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools they need, the support they require and the opportunities they desire to make sure their lives are transformed. This is critical for the success of our country, because as we build stronger families and healthier communities, we also build more resilient children. That gives us hope for the future that the next generation will have the capacity to provide much more support for all of us as we move forward together as a country.
To set the context, we need to understand that the poverty reduction strategy, while it is a new strategy enunciated in policy, is not something we just started to begin work on. The day we took office, we began making investments right across the country to make a transformational change in people's lives. In fact, well over 600,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty as a direct result of the steps taken by our government. That does not include the close to 500,000 new full-time jobs that have been created, which have also created a situation allowing people to avoid poverty. I say this because the prevention of poverty is just as important as its alleviation.
The $22 billion we invested includes about $5.6 billion invested in housing. As soon as we introduced our first budget, we tripled the transfers to the provinces and doubled the investments in community organizations that are leading the fight against homelessness.
We also introduced the Canada child benefit and changed its profile. Not only is it a more generous benefit, but it is also now tax free and means-tested, which means that those with the greatest need will get the greatest support. Unlike the previous government, we do not send the cheques to millionaires and we do not tax the dollars after they have arrived in families' bank accounts. This has probably been the most profound change in social policy in this country in a generation, and probably the most important component of lifting those children I just referenced out of poverty.
Additionally, changes have been made to the CPP as we move forward to secure people's retirement funds. We have also boosted the GIS to make sure that single women, in particular, who are often alone at the end of their lives, get the boost they need to make sure that their incomes are better supported, giving them the capacity to maintain their living standards.
In addition, $7.5 billion has been invested in early learning and child care. These transfers were delivered directly to the provinces, who since the collapse of the previous national day care strategy have evolved their programs and now have a more asymmetrical situation across the country. As we invest that $7.5 billion over the next 10 years, it has already started to sustain existing spaces, provide new capital for expansion, and also provide that critical expansion of the child care system. In fact, in Ontario, 100,000 new spaces of subsidized, quality, affordable child care have been created as a direct result of the investments in partnership with the provinces.
For the first time ever, child care support has also been directed toward indigenous organizations to make sure that distinction-based programs, led, designed and delivered by indigenous communities for their children, are now part of the program. We have also made those investments, which are having an impact on families outside the mainstream programs that have existed for a generation in our country.
On top of child care, substantial investments have also been made in indigenous communities, both on and off reserve, both inside and outside of treaties, both in rural-remote regions and urban centres. These investments have led to cleaner drinking water, better housing, better education and, most importantly, better health programs being provided. In particular on Jordan's principle, in comparison with the approval and enrolment rates under the previous government, which in 10 years managed to get only one child served under Jordan's principle, we are talking about thousands and thousands being served every single year.
These are transformational changes, which have set the base for an even more aggressive push to eliminate even more of the poverty we see in our country, because we cannot sustain poverty in a country as rich as ours with a clean conscience.
As we set the new poverty standard and come across a standard way of measuring it so that we can have a common base to understand exactly whom we lifting out of poverty and how our programs are having that impact, we are often criticized for not having announced new programs simultaneously to our establishing this poverty line.
Let me assure members that there are already programs and investments forecast into the future that have not been included in the 650,000 calculation we have already used to address the people we have lifted out of poverty. For example, we have the signing of bilateral agreements. I was just in the Northwest Territories doing exactly this, signing bilateral agreements on the Canada housing benefit.
The Canada housing benefit is a new way to subsidize people's living arrangements, giving agency and choice to low-income Canadians to choose the housing that best suits their needs. Those subsidies do not kick in until next year, but will have a dramatic impact on the quality of life and alleviation of poverty among those people who are in core housing need. In fact, when one includes all the other components of the national housing strategy, we seek to support well over 650,000 Canadians, and closer to 700,000. Then we get into repairs and some of the other programs that are part of the 10-year forecast.
Those dollars are locked in and are built on top of the $5 billion we have already spent. We have also reprofiled those dollars to make them more flexible, in particular in the way in which they impact women and children, to make sure that those housing needs are addressed specifically through a national housing strategy. They were not in the previous iteration of the program. The new national housing strategy re-profiles that $40 billion and projects it into those people's lives as yet another way to alleviate poverty.
This particular bill also addresses pay equity. I have heard the members opposite complain that the bill is too big. It covers seven distinct pieces of legislation, but the piece on pay equity covers the entire breadth of federally regulated and federally administered pay programs. It is a big, complex bill because pay equity touches virtually every corner of the government, as well as significant parts of the country's private sector. That is why the bill is 850 pages long.
The bill is a comprehensive all-of-government, all-of country approach to pay equity. We are very proud to push that forward, because pay equity, again, is one of the most important tools we can put together to ensure that we reduce poverty, in particular of women but also of families and Canadians right across the country. Pay equity, giving a fair chance to everybody, in particular women, benefits us all. As women's economic situations solidify and strengthen in this country, small and medium businesses and all our social dynamics strengthen as women become more powerful. That is one of the most important reasons to support pay equity. It is good for everyone, even those who are not women.
Additionally, we have also included an indexing formula in the Canada child benefit so that it will grow over time for families to ensure that inflation does not claw back the good, strong investments we have made to eradicate child poverty. Again, those dollars are not calculated as part of our poverty reduction plan, which was in place prior to the strategy, but will have an impact afterward.
Then of course there is the national housing strategy, the $40-billion investment. I have heard some suggest that the way to do a housing program, which we have seen in the platforms of previous parties as they tried to get elected to Parliament, is to put the money upfront and just let the program drift off into the future. As someone who has done much of the consultation work with the minister and CMHC to put this strategy together, I can say that the reality is that the advice we were given by academics, housing providers, municipal partners and provincial agencies was that the best way to build a housing program was to invest heavily to start and then grow the investment as the system gets bigger over time.
In other words, if a riding were to receive a thousand units of public housing this year, a thousand next year and a thousand the year after that, its housing needs would go from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000. Repair needs grow with that, as do subsidy requirements, and if the program is not back-end loaded, one will not be able to build a successful system while building good, strong housing programs. That is why the program not only lasts 10 years, past two elections, but also grows over time to support a bigger, stronger, more robust capacity to house Canadians in need.
Put together, this constitutes our government's strategy for housing, poverty and improving the lives of indigenous people, women and many of the marginalized and racialized communities in this country. We have focused our programs based on data, the information we have received from stakeholders, and partnerships with indigenous, municipal, provincial and territorial governments. In total, the early investments, the project investments, the new tools to measure, study and drive data into the system to alleviate poverty are the reasons this bill is large, why are ambitions are just as big, and most importantly, why the achievements are so profound.
We are very, very proud of this particular piece of legislation. I hope that all of Canada can support it. I hope that everyone in Parliament can support it. This is delivering real change, real housing and real support to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and I encourage all parliamentarians to support it as such.
View Peter Julian Profile
View Peter Julian Profile
2018-11-27 16:16 [p.24047]
Madam Speaker, I am going to start where the Liberals just left off. The Liberals said, unbelievably, that somehow Canadians who are in the immense turmoil that exists currently with the housing crisis in so many parts of this country are happy with the government. I can say first-hand, from living in New Westminster—Burnaby, which is, in a sense, in the epicentre of the housing crisis, that tonight there are women, men and families wondering whether they can keep a roof over their heads. As rents rise, and they have limited pensions or are working at minimum wage, they do not believe they can keep up. There are women, men and families worried about whether they will ever have housing again. That is why so many shelters are filled to the brim. It is a national tragedy, yet what we have heard today from the Liberals is that everything is just fine. It clearly is not.
We need a federal government that understands the principle of a roof over every single Canadian's head and that will make the required investments so that housing becomes a priority again in this country. That is certainly something Jagmeet Singh has been speaking to right across this country as he talks with Canadians. There is no doubt in his mind that the housing crisis is critical and that we have to respond with the kind of effort we did after the Second World War.
I have mentioned this before in the House. We built 300,000 housing units in the space of 30 months. Governments at that time understood that the men and women in service overseas were coming back to Canada and deserved to have a roof over their heads. That is why in places like New Westminster, like 109 Glover, which is my address, those houses were built in 1947, 1948 and 1949. We built hundreds of thousands of units. Today the government pretends that it has done something. It has manufactured, in a bizarre way, some cooked-up figures, as if it is actually addressing the housing crisis. It is a tragedy that the government does not understand the importance of this. There is nothing in this budget implementation bill that addresses the housing crisis.
There is nothing in the budget implementation bill that addresses the crisis in pharmacare, either. The lack of pharmacare is something so many Canadians feel acutely. One in every five Canadians, as my colleague, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, has mentioned numerous times in the House, has no access to medications. They simply cannot afford to pay for them. Businesses have to pay billions of dollars a year for drug plans. The good businesses, of course, provide drug plans to their employees. Businesses that care less choose not to do that, but then those employees become part of the one in every five Canadians who cannot afford medications.
These are the big, glaring errors in this budget implementation bill. When the government could have chosen to take action, it chose, instead, to do nothing. It aggravated it, appallingly to me and to so many Canadians, with a massive $14-billion corporate tax writeoff scheme. That is $14 billion of taxpayers' money. Stunningly, when I talked to the finance officials and asked if it was true what I was reading on page 58 that plush corporate jets and stretch limousines were included as part of these massive corporate tax writeoffs that could go to Bay Street companies, they said yes, it was very true; stretch limousines, absolutely; plush private jets, absolutely.
The government is not prioritizing the needs of Canadians by putting in place single-payer universal pharmacare, putting in place housing in this country at a time when it is in crisis or responding to the needs of indigenous children. They are profoundly underfunded and disadvantaged for life because of the up to $10,000 funding gap per pupil per year in indigenous schools because of the chronic underfunding by the federal government.
Instead of responding to all of this, we have what is before us. What is before us had some good intentions. Pay equity was a very good intention. The federal government slapped itself on the back and said it did a good job. It was then referred to committee, which heard from witnesses. It heard from the Coalition for Pay Equity, CUPE, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Labour Congress. It heard from a wide variety of activists who have been fighting for pay equity and making sure that women are paid equally for work of equal value for years. Each one of them said that there were major flaws and that this bill had holes that must be addressed.
The pay equity coalition was particularly eloquent in this regard. It said that unless these flaws were fixed, women would have to go back to court so they could actually get equal pay for work of equal value. That is a compelling argument. Parliamentarians from the Liberal Party were at the committee and heard from the Coalition for Pay Equity, the teamsters, CUPE, PSAC and of course, the CLC, all of them saying the same thing, to fix the flaws. Every single one of them said that if these flaws were not fixed, women would have to return to court. Therefore, the Liberals cannot brag about bringing pay equity. All they can brag about is bringing a flawed bill to the floor of the House of Commons.
The NDP, because we are the worker bees in this House, went to work. We worked night and day. We came up with dozens of amendments to fix all the flaws. The Liberals put forward a flawed bill. However, our job, as parliamentarians, is to fix the flaws. When I went to committee last week, my full expectation, despite the fact that the Liberals were bulldozing the bill through committee, was that the Liberals would accept the amendments and fix the flaws in the bill, even though we did all the work. Unbelievably, the Liberal MPs who sat at committee and heard about the massive flaws that would lead to women having to go back to court to achieve pay equity refused to entertain any amendments whatsoever.
Now we are left at report stage with a deeply flawed piece of legislation. Not a single Liberal can get up and say that the government has fixed pay equity, because it has not. The Liberals had a chance. We did the work for them. We were willing to let them take the credit, because the only thing that seems to concern them is who gets credit. We do not care. We just want this fixed. We want pay equity to be a reality. We do not want women to have to go back to court. The Liberals said no. Therefore, we are left with a bill with all the massive flaws identified by witness after witness. Not a single Liberal MP was willing to stand up for pay equity at committee. Not a single MP was willing to fix the flaws.
That is just one issue in a very sad narrative. I only have 10 minutes. I could speak for hours on this, because there are flaws identified in other parts of this massive omnibus piece of legislation. It is the biggest in our history, at 850 pages. It was thrown at the House of Commons with all kinds of flaws and mistakes written in, yet the Liberals were unwilling, even when other parties did the work for them, to entertain any fixes to the flaws.
Unfortunately, what that means is that this will be exactly like what we saw with the Harper government. Half a dozen times, a court threw out the legislation, because the Conservatives steamrolled it through the House of Commons rather than listening to elected representatives and experts so they could fix the flaws. Tragically, we are going to see women being forced to go back to court to throw out a piece of legislation on pay equity that could have been fixed. We did the work for them.
The most frustrating thing is that the current Liberal government does not have the character to understand that it is not who gets the credit; it is that the work is done right. We have always believed that the work needs to be done right. That is our role in Parliament, as Canadians chose in the last election. Up until the next election, we will continue to do that work.
I must oppose the bill at report stage. There are huge errors in this bill, and the Liberals rejected dozens of amendments that we proposed. They refused to improve the bill, and this is why I will vote against it.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
The bill has made it to report stage. This is a mammoth bill that is more than 851 pages long. It is truly a massive omnibus bill.
If we combine this bill with the 2008 budget, that makes more than 1,400 pages of legislative changes that all members of the House have to study.
We have said many times that bills like Bill C-86 should be split so that all members of the House have enough time to debate and study them. When bills are this big, it is easy to hide things in them.
In 2015, the Liberals promised to do things differently. When the Conservatives were in power, they had a habit of introducing mammoth omnibus bills. During the election campaign, the Liberals said they would be different and everyone could trust them. However, right after they were elected, back in 2015, they started introducing omnibus bills.
When a government drafts a budget, it makes choices and sets priorities. We are really very disappointed with Bill C-86. More and more, people are hoping the government will enact measures to change their lives for the better. As the NDP sees it, the Liberals have missed that opportunity.
As everyone knows, Canada is a rich country. The gap between Canada's richest people and the rest of the population has never been wider. We believe that that is utterly unacceptable in 2018. Two Canadian billionaires own as much as 11 million Canadians.
Oxfam released a report revealing that the eight richest men own the same wealth as half of humanity.
About 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, live in homes that struggle to put food on the table. Last week, following our weekly caucus meeting, I was able to go back to my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé to attend a Noël du pauvre fundraising dinner in Yamachiche. Volunteers work throughout the year to raise money so that families and children get Christmas hampers.
I would like to recognize the work of organizing committee chair Pierrette Plante and honorary chair Father Julio César Duran. A total of 550 people attended this dinner, which raised nearly $16,000 to help local residents in need.
We are pleased to see that Bill C-86 contains poverty reduction targets. Unfortunately, those targets are not accompanied by appropriate measures or funding so that they can be met.
The Liberals have ideas and targets, but they are not making any new investments to meet those targets. There is a poverty crisis in Canada. People are living in hardship and misery. There are still people struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month.
The important thing in this bill is pay equity. Women have been waiting for pay equity for over 42 years. It is a promise that was made by the Liberals. However, once again, we are waiting. The Liberals like to consult, but what it really boils down to is that they are buying time. They are still consulting about pay equity, when we really need it today.
Another thing we were hoping to find in the bill was a federal measure to tax web giants, but the bill contains no such measure. We are also calling on the government to put an end to pension theft and to give Canada a national child care strategy.
I had my son when I was a teenager, and at the time, it cost me $55 a day to send him to daycare. I had to take out additional loans so I could continue my studies and send my son to daycare. We need a Canada-wide child care system to help families, especially single parents.
Furthermore, we want stronger action to address tax havens, and we also want EI sickness benefits to be extended from 15 weeks to 50. There is a good public awareness campaign on that topic. I will come back to that. We also want a universal pharmacare system.
In addition, we want the needs of indigenous communities to be met, particularly with regard to access to safe drinking water and funding for educational institutions in their communities, which receive less funding than other institutions in the country. Lastly, we want assistance for rural regions.
Regarding the duration of EI sickness benefits, which we want to be extended from 15 weeks to 50, it is important to highlight the work of Marie-Hélène Dubé, who launched a petition called “15 weeks to heal is not enough!”. Half a million Canadians signed that petition calling on the federal government to take action, but we have heard nothing but radio silence so far in response. It is very frustrating.
In 2016, the Prime Minister himself and the Minister of Social Development promised to take action and extend the benefit period. In 2014, the Prime Minister even voted in favour of Bill C-291, which would have extended EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50.
The government needs to walk the talk. Sick people need time to take care of themselves. They do not have time to fight. That is why we continue to pressure the federal government to extend EI sickness benefits.
I represent the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, which includes the RCMs of Maskinongé and Berthier, as well as three municipalities in the RCM of Matawinie. I travel quite a bit across my riding, and people stop me to talk about the importance of having a national connectivity strategy, which is something we do not currently have at the federal level.
Access to high-speed broadband Internet is vital to strengthening Canada's social and economic fabric. Some businesses really struggle with connectivity issues. I know a business owner in Maskinongé who pays two ISPs and never knows which of the two will work when he needs it. When one does not work, he tries the other.
We have long called for a national connectivity strategy. Although the government offers programs and money from time to time, this is not enough. We need a Canada-wide strategy to connect Canada and Quebec to the Internet.
I should point out that a cell network strategy is needed as well. In my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, people from Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc to Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé tell me how important cell coverage is. The mayor of Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, Réal Normandin, has spoken to me about this, because people in his village have a hard time getting cell reception. The community of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, the hometown of Fred Pellerin, is in the same boat.
At a coffee meeting last week in Lavaltrie, Sylvie Legault and Gilles Auclair collected signatures for a petition about the 34 homes on the Point-du-Jour concession that have no Internet access and limited cell network access. Lavaltrie is not far from Montreal. These people are calling for a national Internet access and cell network strategy.
We had hoped to find all kinds of good things in Bill C-89, but the NDP will have to oppose this bill, since it does not do enough to address pay equality. Women have been fighting for far too long for the right to equal pay for equal work.
This bill also does not do enough to help rural areas get access to the Internet and the cell network. We also need to improve the pharmacare system. In short, there are many reasons why we will be voting against Bill C-86.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2018-11-26 16:36 [p.23934]
Mr. Speaker, basically, it looks like we are in agreement in a lot of areas.
The member mentioned that there were a lot of poor people in the country. As I mentioned in my speech in detail, we have contributed to virtually all of those groups. First, for the working poor, we have helped over two million people. We have increased the amount of money for low-income students. We have increased the GIS for low-income seniors, bringing thousands of them out of poverty. There is the new Canada child benefit, which brings thousands of children out of poverty.
I am delighted the member raised the boiled water advisories. I do not have the exact figures, but a record number have been dealt with, I think 60 out of 120. We are well on schedule to eliminate them all. It is very important, and I am glad it is important for the NDP.
Finally, on Internet for rural areas, there is a special program. As an example, in my area, the federal government is investing millions to put a line up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik. Therefore, we will have redundancy with our line from the south from Alberta as it goes down whenever someone breaks a line from Alberta. I am very appreciative of that. I appreciate the fact that the member supports those types of initiatives.
View Ruth Ellen Brosseau Profile
Mr. Speaker, I could have talked more than 10 minutes, because there are a lot of issues I would have liked to have brought forward on the floor of the House.
I mentioned the importance to act on ensuring we equalized and had better transfer payments to first nations schools. We hear stories, quite often brought up in caucus and in question period, of devastating circumstances, such as how the schools are filled with mould and people are getting sick. The government is not investing enough in building schools so kids feel safe and comfortable. It is completely ridiculous to think that in the 2018 there is such as injustice in the way kids are treated across Canada.
For the boiled water advisories, some people do not have running water. Parents are afraid to wash their kids because they might get sick. We have not seen a concrete plan and obviously the government has not invested enough.
These are human rights violations. These are important issues that the government talks a lot about, but when it comes to concrete action and money to back it up, it is far too little.
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