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Results: 1 - 15 of 580
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-03-25 3:25 [p.2069]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order for clarification. I just wanted to clarify part c). The House leader said that we would be resolving into committee of the whole for a period not exceeding one hour. I believe translation said one hour and 45 minutes, so perhaps the House leader could clarify that.
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View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-03-25 4:42 [p.2081]
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Mr. Speaker, if I could take off my partisan hat for just a moment, we all recognize what a difficult time this is for the country, the world and the Canadian government of any political stripe. This is a very heavy load to bear. I am glad we can be here together, not always agreeing, but agreeing on one thing, that we are putting the needs of our fellow Canadians first and foremost.
My question has to do with small businesses. They seem to have been neglected in the finance minister's bill. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. Whether it is small restaurants, coffee shops or nail salons, these are folks who employ one to three people. They have been neglected. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance what the Liberals are going to do to help small businesses right now who need some support?
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 10:06 [p.1975]
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Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition. This response will be tabled in an electronic format.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 10:35 [p.1980]
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Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 11:05 [p.1984]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway for the motion, which is something we have talked about in this place before. As he has said many times, after many years—decades, in fact—it is high time that we got something done on this file.
I would like him to speak a little more on something that I always find strange in this debate. A lot of members from other parties routinely stand and say they want efficiency in government and less money spent overall. We know that prescription drug coverage for provinces is one of the major cost drivers in health care. Drug coverage on a federal scale is a way to drive down those prices, which are putting upward pressure on provincial budgets. It is always mystifying to me that when we come up with an idea that would, without sacrificing services, drive down the cost of something that governments are already providing, we do not see more support on the other side of the House.
I wonder if the member could speak to that phenomenon and maybe help Canadians understand how that could be.
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 11:22 [p.1987]
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Mr. Speaker, we are here 23 years after the Liberals initially promised this in their platform. They have had many years of majority government since making that promise. We just came off a Liberal majority government and the Liberals have not even had a meeting with the provinces to discuss the idea, to feel them out and see where they are with this.
If the Liberals are really serious about developing a single-payer national public comprehensive pharmacare plan, when will they call a meeting with the provinces for the express purpose of figuring out what the concerns of the provinces are so they can start to develop a plan to deal with those and make an offer that would be acceptable to the provinces to move ahead on? I do not want NDP MPs standing here 23 years from now, talking about 46 years of inaction by the Liberals. They first promised it in 1997.
When is the government going to actually convene a meeting with the provinces to talk about a national pharmacare plan? When is it going to happen?
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 11:42 [p.1991]
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Mr. Speaker, for the first time we have a Prime Minister who understands the issues and challenges that many Canadians have with trying to decide between medication and food. Issues of poverty are very real and tangible.
Our caucus has long been advocating to ensure that medications are affordable and will be there for individuals who need them. For the very first time we have a Prime Minister who has really taken this issue head on to meet the needs of Canadians who require these types of medications. The cost of pharmaceuticals is too high.
I am wondering if my Conservative colleague across the way could give his thoughts in regard to the individuals who find this so difficult and are choosing between medication, food and often proper shelter because of the cost of their medications. Would he not agree that this issue has to be dealt with?
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 11:59 [p.1993]
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Mr. Speaker, let me attempt to restore some faith in my colleague across the way. Colleagues want to make reference to Liberal promises over many years.
Let me remind my colleague: The Prime Minister made a commitment to Canada's middle class to reduce taxes. That was done. We made a commitment to increase GIS for our seniors who were most in need. That was done. We made a commitment to increase the Canada child benefit. That was done. We have made a commitment to ensure that medications are going to be there for those Canadians who need it. I will assure the member across the way that this commitment too will be done.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 12:15 [p.1995]
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Madam Speaker, Canada is a great nation with many different partners. We have provincial governments. The Saskatchewan government played a critical role in terms of the health care system we have today. In many ways, it played a leadership role to ultimately having a national health care system from which the residents of Quebec, Manitoba, Atlantic Canada and B.C. have all benefited.
Quebec has played a very important role on the issue of pharmacare. Like Saskatchewan, Quebec has an opportunity to play a strong leadership role, so the residents of Quebec possibly have a more enhanced program. Would my colleague not agree that given the leadership that Quebec has demonstrated in the past, it can actually play a strong national leadership role in ensuring that Canadians from coast to coast to coast, including people in Quebec, could possibly have a better program? After all, are we not here to serve first the constituents we represent?
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 12:27 [p.1997]
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Madam Speaker, I think the member knows that the NDP supports the idea of increasing federal health transfers. Many Canadians, not just Quebeckers, are disappointed, not with the federal government per se, but with Liberals and Conservatives for not ensuring that the federal government pays its fair share.
Our party wants to work with Quebeckers and progressive Canadians across the country so that the federal government gives the provinces a fair amount to help them manage their provincial health care systems.
A program like the one we are discussing today has the potential to save money, something that no province can do alone. If we work together, across our great country, we can save money that we would not be able to save if every province works alone. That is the big advantage here.
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 12:32 [p.1997]
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Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Victoria.
Today, I am rising in the House once again to address the issue of pharmacare. It is unfortunate, frankly, that we are still only addressing this issue through opposition day motions. It is a testament to the fact that the government has not brought anything to the House that would advance the cause of a national pharmacare program. It is something that we know we need. We have made these arguments many times before, and Canadians themselves have a real and intense sense of the need.
In a telephone town hall in my riding, we held a straw poll of the several hundred people on the call. We asked how many people, either themselves or people they knew, close friends or family members, were cutting their pills in half, choosing to go without food, struggling to pay the rent or going without their prescription drugs because they had to choose between food and rent. We asked how many were dealing with the consequences of not being able to manage their illnesses, and it was about a third of people in Elmwood—Transcona. That is consistent with national polling that says a lot of Canadians are in this boat. Why are they?
If we look at international drug pricing, we know that Canada pays among the highest prices for drugs. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, earlier in this debate, said we need to figure out why it is that Canada is paying among the highest prices in the OECD. We know why. It is because we are one of the only countries without a national pharmacare plan. It is not a puzzle or a mystery. We know exactly why. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health was talking about how they are working at the problem around the edges and wondering why they are not having any success.
We know from report after report, going back to the 1960s, that the way to make serious progress on this issue is to cut right to the heart of the matter and have a proper national, universal, single-payer public pharmacare plan. If we were to do that, we would see Canada's standing on the OECD drug price list go down significantly. It is not a mystery. The only mystery is why a party that promised this 23 years ago in its election platform, and has had a number of majority governments since, has not been able to get it done. It is charitable to call it a mystery. It is a mystery if we do not give what I think is an obvious explanation to those who are not in a charitable mood, which is that drug company and insurance lobbyists clearly have a lot of influence on the government, and that is why we are not able to make headway on this important issue.
What we hear from the Liberals is that the NDP wants to move too fast, that it is in such a hurry. When we talk about a policy proposal from the 1960s, and a Liberal promise from over 23 years ago, I hardly think that New Democrats are moving too fast. That would be like saying that somebody who took out a 25-year mortgage on their home was moving too quickly and the person should not have amortized the home over 25 years, but longer. We can do a lot in 25 years. People have died waiting for a national pharmacare plan, and I hope there will not be any more. The evidence and the research is there. We hoped we had the conditions in this Parliament to make it happen.
Earlier in the debate today, there was talk of establishing medicare across the country and how that was a function of collaboration between a Liberal minority government under Pearson at the time and the NDP in the 1960s. New Democrats had hoped that there was the willingness on the part of the Liberals to make a bold policy move. The circumstances today are the same as then, and we are willing to work with the government.
We have drafted legislation that provides a framework and put forward the motion today. The research is already out there. Not only is it out there by the Parliamentary Budget Officer and a number of civil society and academic groups that have studied the issue, but the government commissioned its own report from the last Parliament that recommended exactly what we are proposing. The research is done. The conditions in Parliament have been obtained.
If the Liberals need somebody to blame, they can tell the insurance and drug companies, “We were trying to look out for your profits, but those bloody NDPers just would not give us a break and we had to do it.” Liberals can blame us, that is fine. We do not mind looking bad in the books of insurance and pharmaceutical companies if it means getting a win for Canadians struggling to pay for their drugs. They can blame us. That is how we have gotten a lot of good stuff done in this country.
The problem is that the government does not want a deal, and it does not want to move forward. I think the frustration here is that a lot of Canadians felt if we got a Parliament that looked like this one, we could move forward on a common-sense policy proposal.
Often when we talk about helping people out, common objections that come up are what it is going to cost and where we are going to find the money. The fact of the matter is that we can afford to not only maintain the existing level of service, but expand it to everyone and save billions of dollars at the same time. The money is already being spent. In fact, we are already overspending on prescription drugs in Canada. We have the research. We thought we had the political conditions to be able to get this done.
Part of what is happening, if we look at this and the reluctance of the Liberals to use this Parliament to make significant gains, is a little like outdated conventional wisdom. This is not grandpa's Liberal Party. It has not been the same since 1993, but there is still an image in the heads of a lot of Canadians. They think back to constructive minority Liberal governments that worked with the NDP to get good things done, but today it is like putting butter on a burn. That was something that people used to do because it seemed like a good idea.
However, when we look at the evidence that we have so far in this Parliament, and from the Liberal majority governments from 1993 onward, we can see that it is becoming a dated notion. The evidence disproves the claim that Liberals are here to do real progressive work and are willing to sign on to innovative new social policies that not only save money but also expand service for Canadians. I think that is a message that Canadians should take seriously.
There was a lot of talk in the last election about what a minority Parliament could produce, and I know that for people not just in Elmwood—Transcona, but right across the country, there was a real hope that we would be able to get this kind of collaboration. This is a starting point, as I have said. We have done a lot of work in order to make it as easy as possible for the Liberal government to move ahead. It is something that we desperately want to see. It is something that, when we look at the potential benefit to Canadians in their everyday life, is huge, and it is rare that we get that kind of benefit while saving money at the same time.
According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, we are talking about over $4 billion a year that we are already spending that we would not have to spend. Members can look at some of the other studies. They talk about $6 billion, $8 billion or $10 billion a year that we could be spending. I think the PBO report is universally acknowledged as being quite conservative in its assumptions.
Here we are. We have the political conditions. We have the research. We can get it done. That is exactly what we need to do, and we are waiting for that to happen.
An hon. member: You have to call for split time again. They did not hear you.
Mr. Daniel Blaikie: I know.
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 12:40 [p.1999]
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Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's enthusiasm to hear from the member for Victoria. I am looking forward to her speech as well. It is going to be an excellent speech, because it is a really important topic.
I am just going to wrap up by reiterating. It is rare that we have such a clear-cut public policy opportunity to save money and to expand services for people who really desperately need them. We spend so much time in politics listening to politicians say we need to cut the budget, we need to save money and we need to balance the budget. The biggest cost driver for provincial health budgets, which are paying for prescription drugs already, is prescription drugs. We can do something about that by mobilizing the purchasing power of the country and expanding the service for Canadians.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-03-12 12:42 [p.1999]
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Madam Speaker, the member was here when we heard the Bloc talking about the pharmacare program in the province of Quebec. Much as Saskatchewan played a very important role in our having a strong national presence on a national health care program, I think that Quebec could play a very important leadership role in terms of a national pharmacare program.
Would my colleague not agree that in order to have any form of national pharmacare program, it is absolutely critical that we work with provincial jurisdictions, given the important role that they play in health care?
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 12:42 [p.1999]
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Madam Speaker, in response to the member's question, I will just read item (b) from the motion:
(b) call on the government to implement the full recommendations of the final report of the Hoskins Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, commencing with the immediate initiation of multilateral negotiations with the provinces and territories to establish a new, dedicated fiscal transfer to support universal, single-payer, public pharmacare....
It is right in the motion. Of course we believe that it is important to work with the provinces. It is why we put it in the motion.
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2020-03-12 12:44 [p.1999]
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Madam Speaker, there has been a lot of debate, discussion and research on how medication for rare diseases is a separate category and needs to be treated differently. The idea is not that a national pharmacare plan would be a panacea for every patient and for every condition. The fact of the matter is, as the member has been pointing out often in the House and not just in the debate today, people already have trouble accessing those drugs in Canada under a patchwork system. That is not a reason not to have a system that makes it a lot easier and a lot cheaper to access common drugs for most Canadians, and then work on an appropriate solution for people who are struggling to get access to medication for rare diseases.
The member sees these two things as being in fundamental opposition. I disagree. He is identifying a legitimate need that needs a policy response, but the policy response is not to negate all of the benefits of a national pharmacare plan.
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