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Results: 1 - 15 of 394
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-03-13 10:03 [p.1]
Madam Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the official opposition to offer my thoughts and prayers to the Prime Minister, his wife, all parliamentarians and indeed all Canadians who are experiencing or know someone affected by COVID-19.
View Mark Strahl Profile
I would also like to thank all public health officials and front-line health care workers who are working around the clock to keep Canadians healthy and safe.
These are extraordinary times. With the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, it is incumbent on everyone to exercise the highest degree of caution. My colleagues and I, in direct collaboration with our friends across the aisle, have come to an arrangement to suspend Parliament while ensuring the government continues to have the authority and capability to provide our country with necessary financial supports.
There continue to remain significant questions about the Government of Canada's management of this pandemic. While we understand that COVID-19 does not respect borders, the government can consider measures to further contain the virus from spreading, such as more vigorous screening upon entry, mandatory quarantine for those who enter from high-risk countries and potentially stopping incoming and outgoing flights from high-risk areas. The government's relying on Canadians to have enough supplies to weather the pandemic is simply not enough.
Canadians need to be reassured that the government is prepared to assist and support those affected by the coronavirus. We also need to see a comprehensive plan to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.
We as the official opposition will continue to do our elected duties outside of the confines of Parliament and will continue to press the government for the answers Canadians deserve.
Stay healthy. God bless you all, and God bless Canada.
View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary specifically referenced the cost of drugs and what the government was doing to try to address that. I would just give this feedback for the member and for the government.
I was contacted last night by Theresa from my riding, who is the grandmother of nine-year-old Ruby. Ruby has cystic fibrosis. She has to do all sorts of things that kids her age never would have to contemplate, and it is very hard on her and her family.
Theresa specifically has said that Trikafta is not available. She says:
And now we have a government who is overhauling this already cumbersome system starting with the PMPRB...who has been mandated to decide the ceiling price that will be paid for prescription medicines. However, they have not been differentiating medicines for rare diseases, like cystic fibrosis, from more common diseases. They just want to get the medicines at the lowest price they can. We all want that, however, it isn't reasonable to think that rare diseases should be decided upon the same way others are as research development for rare diseases requires a will to proceed that is a far greater commitment of pharmaceutical firms.
The member has said that his government is trying to take action on the cost, but he is actually denying access for important medicines to help children like Ruby.
Could the member explain to Theresa why his government's plan is benefiting Canadians, particularly those who are wrestling with this horrible disease?
View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, I appreciate hearing from my fellow British Columbian on this important matter.
The member seems to be very insistent on having her and her party's way. Obviously there are some constitutional issues, but what happens if a province disagrees with the NDP? What measures does she think the federal government needs to do to implement the New Democrats' vision, particularly when this is the jurisdiction of the provinces?
View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, the government has an infrastructure bank that does not really fund much infrastructure. We have a centralized payroll system that was supposed to save us millions of dollars but, when it was finally put in place by the government and the button was pushed to start it up, we ended up with many public servants not being paid.
How is the member so confident that a national program could be implemented when there are 10 provincial systems that do a fairly good job? There could be improvements. This is an area where there are so many complexities, including drug choices and millions of Canadians. Does the member think that a national program with such complexity could be put in operation? Will we end up with another situation like the Phoenix pay issue, with so many lives on the line?
View Tako Van Popta Profile
View Tako Van Popta Profile
2020-03-12 17:07 [p.2042]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the NDP's motion on universal pharmacare. I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.
I am going to talk about the affordability of having another government plan. Money does not grow on trees, but that is what the NDP would have us think: We can just wave a magic wand and $34 billion will appear to fund a universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable public prescription drug plan. That is what the Hoskins report says Canadians spent on prescription medication in 2018.
What will the federal government's contribution be to that very big cost? Where will that money come from? Will it come from increased taxes? Will it come from more borrowing by the federal government? Are we just going to keep adding to our national debt because our national debt is not quite as large as those of our trading partners? We have heard that quite often.
We often hear members opposite say that under their watch, one million Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. However, they failed to acknowledge that we went a further $80 to $100 billion in debt over that same period of time, and this during a time of full employment in a strong economy and good government revenues. If the government cannot balance a budget in good times, how is it going to manage the economy in the inevitable bad times? Of course, the government should not only be balancing the budget in good times but also be paying down debt. Under both Conservative and Liberal governments, that has been the tradition in Canada for many decades. Of course, these are not Chrétien or Martin Liberals; these are the other type of Liberals, the ones who think debt does not matter.
Pharmacare and medicare are primarily provincial matters. The federal government should be managing the national economy and staying out of the way of provincial governments so that they can do what they do best.
That brings me back to trees. Money can, in fact, grow out of trees. I am thinking of British Columbia trees, the ones that are not being harvested at the moment. There are a lot of reasons for that, including the lack of a softwood lumber treaty, the one that the government has failed to negotiate for us.
I have a great idea. Let us get our forest industry working again. Forestry is a wonderful renewable resource that could change the lives of many Canadians, yet it is being ignored. Let us get those revenues flowing again to the provincial coffers so that they can fund their provincial pharmacare plans and send revenues back to the federal government through income tax from fully employed Canadians.
While I am talking about resources, let me say that money also grows in the ocean, or at least it does when the west coast salmon industry is thriving, which it is not, for a lot of reasons, including ongoing mismanagement by the federal fisheries department. Let us pay more attention to that source of wealth. Let us get Canadian fishers out fishing again and paying taxes.
Money also grows in the ground. I am thinking of natural gas, for example, which is a potential big source of government revenues for my home province of B.C. Let us get the necessary infrastructure built so that we can start selling our clean, green liquid natural gas to the world. That can be a big part not only of our economy but also of Canada's contribution to the fight against global climate change.
Instead of economic development, we see railroad blockades by professional pipeline protesters thinly veiled as indigenous rights protectors.
Let us talk about indigenous reconciliation. This is—
View Tako Van Popta Profile
View Tako Van Popta Profile
2020-03-12 17:13 [p.2043]
Mr. Speaker, I am talking about a strong economy, one that can fund a pharmacare program.
I am answering the question about how we can afford a pharmacare program of $34 billion, which is what the Hoskins report says pharmacare will cost. How can the government do that better than private enterprise is doing it already? We need a strong economy and right now, indigenous reconciliation, or the lack thereof, is standing in the way economic development. We want to get our pipelines built. We have some big projects that are going to wealth producers. The government is struggling to accomplish one of its main goals, indigenous reconciliation, which, of course, is great for indigenous communities but also good for Canada's economy. We need to get our economy going again.
Living off of borrowed money, in fact, does not create wealth. It redistributes wealth from future generations to this generation. That is a fair comment. How are we going to fund a pharmacare program? Is it going to be through borrowing money, which future generations are going to have to pay off, or are we going to create the wealth that will allow us to pay for a very rich pharmacare plan?
This brings me directly to the topic of the day. The NDP motion would have this House accept the Hoskins advisory council report and the implementation of a national pharmacare program based on that. The motion also says the House would “urge the government to reject the U.S.-style private patchwork approach to drug coverage, which protects the profits of big pharmaceutical and insurance companies”. Apparently the NDP does not like to see big companies making profits. Let me share my personal experience in the business world prior to coming to Ottawa.
In my previous life we employed many people. We had to pay competitive salaries and part of the competition was to have a very good, robust group benefits plan for the employees. If we did not offer that to future employees, they could go to other employers, so it was a very competitive world to get the best and the brightest people working for us. Our group benefit plans always included a very good pharmacare plan.
I would suggest that, contrary to what the NDP is suggesting, insurance companies can do a very good job. I would also say that big pharma has done a good job. Competition is good for pharmacare and I am afraid that the NDP motion would undermine that competition, which has served us very well over so many years.
The NDP does not like the patchwork that is currently in place and serving most Canadians quite well. Canadians are rightly proud of our universal public health care plan, but maybe it is not as good as we think it is. It is being challenged all the time. We keep saying that we do not want a two-tiered health care system. Just the fact that we have to say it suggests that it is being challenged.
I would tell the New Democratic Party not to ignore or completely write off a patchwork because it has served us very well for so many years. I will give the NDP credit for drawing to the attention of this House that there are some Canadians who fall through the cracks and I would support helping those people.
View Tako Van Popta Profile
View Tako Van Popta Profile
2020-03-12 17:18 [p.2044]
Mr. Speaker, I will quote from the executive summary of the Hoskins report. Sentence number one is “Canadians spent $34 billion on prescription medicines in 2018.” That is sentence number one.
The second part of the question was related to possible savings that would come out of getting rid of the patchwork. That is a theory. It is not proven. I think the current system, which is competition and profit motivated, has served us very well. As an employer, I have paid a lot of money to hire employees, and I had to provide a very good pharmacare plan for them or they would go work for the competition. Competition actually does work.
View Tako Van Popta Profile
View Tako Van Popta Profile
2020-03-12 17:20 [p.2044]
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that there was a question in there.
Big pharma spends a lot of money on designing new drugs. The profit margin is what drives them to do that. There is going to be a cost involved. Just making it a universal plan does not necessarily bring down all those costs.
I recognize that provinces already have pharmacare plans in place, and that a national plan would work together with them. I recognize that. It would not all be a cost to the federal government, but the total cost in 2018 was $34 billion. What will the federal government's contribution be toward that, and how will the federal government fund that contribution?
View Tako Van Popta Profile
View Tako Van Popta Profile
2020-03-12 17:22 [p.2044]
Mr. Speaker, we have heard some examples of drugs that are more expensive in Canada than elsewhere, but for every example like that, there is an example of drugs that are cheaper in Canada than elsewhere.
There are state governments and other big employers that come to Canada to purchase drugs because they are more affordable here than in the United States. I do not know where the idea that Canada is the most expensive place for medication comes from. Certainly it is for some, but not for all. I do not think that is a fair general statement.
View Brad Vis Profile
Madam Speaker, the Conservative Party is the party of free trade and free markets. We recognize the importance of the U.S. and Mexican markets for Canadian exporters, which is why the Conservatives have been clear that we will support the swift passage of the new NAFTA deal. However, while a deal is better than no deal, Canadian industries are bracing for the impact of the changes to come.
Ironically enough, the Liberal government's economic impact report compares CUSMA to not having a NAFTA deal at all. This is baffling, since almost any trade deal, no matter how lopsided, would have been better than having nothing at all.
The C.D. Howe Institute discovered that CUSMA would reduce Canada's GDP by $14.2 billion. Its recent report found that after the implementation of CUSMA, Canada's exports to the U.S. will fall by $3.2 billion, while our imports from the U.S. will increase by $8.6 billion, with the worst impacts being felt in our agriculture and dairy sectors.
I have heard from many farmers in my riding who operate businesses in supply-managed industries, and they feel that the Liberal government has literally sold the family farm. The Conservatives are committed to Canada's supply management system, but the Liberal government's weak leadership and ineffective negotiation tactics have continued to erode the system's integrity. Concessions have been made to the U.S. without our receiving anything meaningful in return, and stakeholders are speaking up.
Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with turkey farmers in British Columbia. They indicated that market access concessions made as the result of CUSMA are going to hurt turkey farm families across the country. Not only that, this change would greatly hinder Canadian consumer access to locally farmed products.
What would this impact look like? Under CUSMA, the market access commitment calculation for turkey will be modified to a 29% increase in new market access for the U.S. into Canada. It will allow the U.S. to export an additional 1,000 metric tons of turkey products each year for the next 10 years above current access levels, with potentially more in the future.
Canadian dairy farmers and processors are also set to lose market access to the Americans. Before the international trade committee, the Dairy Processors Association of Canada shared that at full implementation, the access granted under CUSMA, in addition to the existing concessions from other agreements, namely CETA and CPTPP, represent about 18% of the Canadian market. When considering the three latest trade agreements, Canadian dairy processors will lose $320 million per year.
On top of the market access concessions, CUSMA includes a concerning and unprecedented clause that will impose export caps on worldwide Canadian shipments of milk powder, protein concentrates and infant formula. For example, for skim milk powder and milk protein concentrates, a cap of 55,000 tonnes will be imposed for the first year and 35,000 tonnes for the second year.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is also sounding the alarm. In addition to the market access concessions, supply-managed industries are anxiously waiting for government to fulfill its commitment to quickly and fully mitigate the impacts of these trade agreements, action that is necessary, though insulting to many of my constituents who work in these industries.
Before the international trade committee, Mr. Dykstra, a New Brunswick dairy farmer, stated:
I now want to touch on the compensation package promised, and partly delivered, for CETA and CPTPP. I haven't heard anything about the remaining years and how it will be paid out. That in itself concerns me. The compensation package is bittersweet. Most farmers, including me, received a payment in December of last year for those previous trade agreement concessions. As far as I am aware, no concrete timeline has been set for the next payments. We, as dairy farmers, have always prided ourselves on getting all our money from the marketplace. This is how the system is supposed to work. This is how it did work. The government trading away excess and then offering compensation is not what we want.
In addition to the previously mentioned market access concessions, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has raised two other issues causing serious industry concern.
First, the Liberals have relinquished Canadian sovereignty on critical internal policy development and export control functions. CUSMA commits Canada to consult with the United States before making changes to Canadian dairy policies. This should have never been surrendered.
Second, as mentioned previously, the Liberal government also agreed to cap dairy-sector exports of milk protein concentrates, skim milk and infant formula to CUSMA and non-CUSMA countries, and approved an export charge on exports over the cap. This is disturbing on several fronts. Canada has long argued against the use of export tariffs to regulate trade. It also sets a dangerous precedent by allowing a regional trade agreement and a party in that agreement to control the trade of another party to countries outside of that agreement.
This is why the Conservative Party is standing up for these Canadian businesses and calling on the Deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal government to amend the agreement. Export thresholds for milk protein concentrates, skim milk powder and infant formula should only be subject to trade between the CUSMA signatories, not to other countries that are not party to the agreement.
I will give a real-world example of this from a company that employs hundreds of people in my riding, Vitalus Nutrition, whose CEO, Phil Vanderpol, presented at the trade committee.
Vitalus processes milk supplied by Canadian farmers into high-quality cream and butter, milk protein concentrates and milk protein isolates that have superior quality, nutritional value and functionality. It planned and anticipated demand and, up to this point, was capitalizing on the growth in the global market for nutritional value-added dairy ingredients. The federal government, or at least Western Economic Diversification Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, recognized Vitalus' economic promise and even invested significant funds in the company in the previous Parliament. However, that same federal government is now pulling the rug out from under the company and, ironically, its own previous investments. The Liberal government has managed, in this case, to simultaneously shrink the opportunity for Canadian dairy producers in the Fraser Valley while limiting their ability to grow by exporting.
Turning to forestry, Canada's forestry industry is also disappointed in the Liberal government's inability to protect its sector, since CUSMA does not prevent the United States from applying anti-dumping and countervailing duties to Canadian softwood lumber. Yes, Canadian forest product producers want a speedy ratification of CUSMA, even though it will provide no relief for their uncertainty. They want this in the hope that the federal government will start providing their industry the attention it requires. Businesses are going under, families are hurting and more than 20,000 forestry workers have suffered layoffs. The Liberal government must take immediate action to solve the softwood lumber dispute. It is unconscionable that a sector so significant was not part of the agreement.
I do not have time to address all of the shortcomings I have outlined that are in this new trade agreement, but I note that I would have liked to see the list of professionals admitted under temporary entry for business persons expanded to include the jobs of the 21st century. There are a lot of problematic issues regarding the rules of origin for automobiles and the new quotas in place. Also, buy America was not addressed.
When I was a graduate student, I participated in the North American forum for young leaders in North America. I had the opportunity to work with American and Mexican students at some of the top universities in our continent. On a personal note, we have so much untapped potential between our three countries, and I look forward to seeing labour mobility provisions changed during my lifetime, of course with strict immigration protocols, to meet the untapped potential we have with our trading partners.
With that, I would say that the new NAFTA deal put forward for ratification by the government is, overall, a disappointment, which I know because I represent the supply-managed industries in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. It would leave Canadians worse off than they were under the prior agreement and would relinquish our sovereignty. Our economy depends on free trade, and we need a federal government that signs agreements for the benefit of Canadians. It seems in this case that Canadians were sold out on so many fronts. We need ministers like my old boss, the member for Abbotsford, at the helm of international trade.
View Brad Vis Profile
Madam Speaker, I remind the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands of a moment in the last Parliament, when the Deputy Prime Minister called over the member for Abbotsford and congratulated him. She embraced him in the House and thanked him for the excellent work he had done on the free trade agreement with the European Union. That does not happen every day. That happened because of the amazing work the previous Conservative government did to support free trade in Canada.
Turning to this deal, I note that all of my constituents who raised concerns about the new NAFTA have been vehemently and unanimously opposed to it. There are so many young farmers, like the dairy producers who were in Ottawa just a few weeks ago, who feel the Government of Canada sold them out. For the first time they are taking a paycheque from the government when they and their families prided themselves on maintaining the supply management system. That will be lost in a big way under this agreement.
I will make no bones about challenging an agreement that erodes Canadian sovereignty and that demands the Government of Canada to share its policies on dairy production with a foreign government. That is unacceptable.
View Brad Vis Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my Bloc Québécois colleague for her question.
I am not quite comfortable answering a question in French, but I will get there.
I was at the B.C. poultry AGM last week and heard that right now in Canada unfortunately we are consuming less turkey. Turkey producers across Canada have launched a new campaign to share the benefits of eating turkey meat at times outside of our Thanksgiving holiday.
The concessions that were made regarding turkey producers are like a double whammy to them, because they have already seen a decrease in their quota allotments over the last number of years. They will especially feel the impacts of CUSMA more than other supply-managed sectors.
View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, the member opposite has again used the term “non-partisan” on quite a few points. I do not think anyone in this room would consider it partisan to point out that all members of Parliament who are not part of the executive or cabinet have a duty to hold the government to account for its conduct, particularly when it comes to these free trade deals.
The member talked about how Canada had a team Canada approach when it came to working together. Very early on, the government decided it would work with Mexico and take a team approach against the challenges that the Americans, particularly the President, had launched. The President had been very clear that most of the issues in this NAFTA negotiation had to do with Mexico. They did not have to do with Canada. However, near the end of the negotiation, the Mexican government did a bilateral where clearly trilateral issues were discussed and Canada was left out in the cold. The team Canada approach was left out in the cold.
Does this member believe that the government let the country down when it came to this approach at that critical juncture? It was critical for this country.
View Tamara Jansen Profile
Madam Speaker, I was surprised by the amount of talk about the wins the Liberals had, but there was no mention of gender equality issues. Before negotiations even started, the Prime Minister talked a lot about how he was going to ensure a lot of gender issues were tackled and somehow it does not seem that happened. I am shocked the member did not even mention one word about it in his speech. I wonder if he can mention why that is the case.
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