House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to table three more petitions with a total of 1,137 signatures from my constituents in Prince George—Peace River.

These petitioners from my riding join with many other Canadians in calling upon Parliament to take all necessary steps to eradicate every form of child pornography in Canada. Only with clear legislation that severely punishes those who promote or glorify this material will we curb this form of child exploitation in Canada. Obviously since all Canadian Alliance members support these petitions, I do not have to say that I do.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to present the following petitions whereby the petitioners call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to outlaw all materials that promote child pornography.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House on a very important issue. Close to 2,000 Canadians are petitioning the House to draw attention to the historical significance of the Chinese head tax and the Chinese exclusion legislation that prevented Chinese Canadian workers and their families from entering Canada and imposed a very devastating head tax, as much as $500, which at the time amounted to about two years' wages, against Chinese Canadians.

The petitioners are urging the Government of Canada to recognize the importance of this issue and to sit down and negotiate to provide compensation, to provide an apology, to understand the historical injustice that was perpetrated upon the Chinese community and to make sure this injustice is righted today.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on behalf of my own parish, St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church, to present a petition calling upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find the cures and therapies necessary to treat the illness and disease of suffering Canadians.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to present 10 petitions today calling for Parliament to protect our children by taking steps to outlaw all materials promoting and glorifying pedophilia and sado-masochistic activities involving children. These petitions are signed by 750 individuals and it is my pleasure to present them on behalf of these Peace River constituents.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition from dozens of constituents from Chapleau, Ontario. They are very supportive of research in support of finding cures for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other terrible diseases. They support what they refer to as ethical stem cell research and would prefer that Parliament focus its legislative efforts on adult stem cell research.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Leeds—Grenville
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Jordan Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Health Care System
Government Orders

October 28th, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Yellowhead for his speech. He is correct in one assumption. The Liberals have dropped the ball when it comes to the health care debate.

My question for him is this. He said very clearly that the Canadian Alliance does not support in any way, shape, or form a parallel two tier system, but we have yet to hear members of that party say anything about the creeping privatization happening in provinces like Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia, et cetera. I am just wondering if he can clarify his position as to why we have not heard any kind of criticism or critique of the private sector creeping into the provinces when it comes to health care in the country.

Health Care System
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am a little puzzled by the question because I understood that the NDP agreed with the Canada Health Act, which allows private delivery of health care within a publicly funded system under the jurisdiction of the provinces, and to be flexible in that. We would agree with the Canada Health Act and complying with that. I am a little confused by the question. We certainly agree with that and I thought the NDP did. I hope that is clear enough for him.

Health Care System
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part in today's take note debate in regard to health care. This has become a very important issue for Canadians in the last few years as we have seen a serious decline in our health care system. The budgets of several provincial governments are approaching 50% just for the delivery of health care. People are concerned about whether this will be sustainable in the future. Several commissions have been established in order to try to deal with the health care issue.

I welcome the national debate that is taking place on health care and I welcome the debate in the House today, but I do have to say that we have really gone quite a ways from the days when Lester Pearson introduced health care as a national priority and guaranteed, in his words, from the Liberal government of the day, that no less than 50% of the cost of health care delivery in the country would be provided by the federal government.

We know that is no longer the case. There has been a severe decline in health care in terms of the amount of money that the federal government is putting into it. I suggest that this no different from the decline that we have seen in several other areas. We have seen a decline in productivity. We have seen a decline in the Canadian dollar. We have seen a decline in the amount of foreign investment in Canada as a percentage of world investment. Correspondingly, we have seen increases in taxes and big growth in government. We have seen growth in government in business subsidies, in areas that they have established as priorities on the other side of the House and which we certainly do not share in terms of their position.

What do we have in our health care system right now? We have a decline. We have a problem in that provinces are facing difficulty in being able to fund health care. The national amount of money coming from the federal government is now only 14%, and yet the government wants to dictate all of the rules to the provinces on how health care should be delivered. We welcome this debate.

Three studies, Kirby's, Romanow's and of course the Mazankowski report in Alberta, either have indicated that reforms are needed or are in the process of doing that. We have seen that Mr. Kirby's report, tabled the other day, is calling for increases in taxes so that we can fund over $5 billion in increased funding for health care. I want to deal with that, but I want to also deal with what Canadians really want.

What we believe Canadians want is a public system that is accessible on a timely basis. In other words, if they have a health problem, they want to be able to go to their doctor and have that health problem diagnosed and dealt with in a timely fashion. We know that if this does not happen, things could deteriorate fairly quickly.

How do we propose to get there? These three commissions have all indicated or are in the process of indicating that there needs to be more money for health care. A couple of elections ago, the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance recognized this. We recognized that Canadians have health care as a high priority. In fact we think that if Canadians were able to set their priorities, it certainly would be health care funding over things like money for Bombardier or some of the business subsidies that the government currently gives out.

What Canadians want is a public system. They want accessibility and they want it in a timely manner. We really support that idea. Unfortunately, the only thing that the Liberal government can see as a way to address this is to raise taxes. It is not as though the government is not used to raising taxes. We have seen a lot of tax increases and that seems to be its answer to everything. That is its philosophy: tax it.

What would a family do if faced with a similar situation? What would family members have to do if the family budget were overtaxed? They would say that they have these new expenditures they have to make and they would say “I guess we are just going to have to find some new money someplace”. It is not a realistic possibility for most families. Unless they go out and get part time jobs to support the present jobs they have, that is not a possibility. Yet the government seems to take the attitude that if it needs more money, it will just tax Canadians higher.

We have been down that road. The former finance minister and the Prime Minister have been here since 1993 and since that time taxes have increased steadily. We have seen 53 corporate and personal income tax increases, excluding the Canada pension plan and bracket creep; 28 corporate tax increases, 25 of those being personal income tax increases; 6 bracket creep de facto personal income tax increases from 1994 to 1999; 8 Canada pension plan contribution rate increases from 1994 to 2001 up to 9.4%. This was an 88% increase for the Canada pension plan.

We have seen 67 corporate and personal income tax increases, including CPP and bracket creep, from the government since 1993. What do we have? We have less money being spent on health care in real terms today by the federal government than it was spending in 1993. What a travesty when it is telling the provinces to clean up their act on health care.

The government made a commitment in the late sixties and early seventies that its portion of funding would never fall below 50%. What is it today? It is 14% on average. Some provinces of course are less than that. What happened to that promise? This is consistent with the long term decline in the way the government has run the country for so many of those 30 years.

The budget of 2001 had a 9.3% increase in program spending but not one cent was cut to low priority areas. In 2002 federal government revenues total almost $180 billion. The average Canadian taxpayer will pay about $8,300 in federal taxes. That is a lot of money. In fact the Globe and Mail and Ipsos-Reid had a poll just recently that found that three-quarters of Canadians felt that they were taxed too high in comparison to the services they received, such as health care and education.

What do we have from the government? We have proposals for tax increases. Kirby suggested it. What is he doing? I suggest he is trying to lay the groundwork for the federal government. He is talking about raising in the GST from 7% to 8.5%. He is talking about a raise in either the GST or else a premium that would be raised through a national tax system to raise $5 billion. I do not think that is what Canadians want.

Why will those guys not just cut spending and set their priorities? Why do they have to raise taxes to pay for those services?

It seems to me that they just cannot get their own fiscal house in order. What are they spending the money on? Why do they require all these taxes? Why can they not find the $5 billion within the existing budgetary framework? I think the reason is that they have a lot of friends. They have a lot of business subsidy programs. Over $12 billion in loans were granted to companies like Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell over the past five years. Of that $12 billion granted how much have they received back on their investments? They have received $25 million, a 2% return on investment.

Why do they have to raise taxes further for health care? The answer is that they do not. They just have to get a hold of their own out of control spending.

Canadians are concerned because total government expenditures as a percentage of GDP back in the 1960s were roughly equal in Canada to the United States. Today the Canadian government spends approximately 42% of GDP on public programs and interest payments on debt, a full 11% more than in the U.S.

It is commonly assumed that the extra expense is used to pay for health care but, as was pointed out earlier, the U.S. spends more money on public health care, although many people have private insurance as we heard earlier, than does Canada. We also know that the United States spends a significant amount on its military, which takes up a big portion of its GDP, but it still has government spending that is 12% less of its GDP than ours.

The government certainly can do better. We have had advice from people, such as Toronto Dominion economist, Don Drummond, who used to work for the government as a deputy minister. What he has said is that for every new dollar of spending there should be an onus to identify another dollar that is a low priority dollar to be cut back. That is the total missing approach in Ottawa at the moment. I could not have said that better.

The government has no idea how to get its priorities straight. Money is there for health care if it is required but not from new taxes. Canadians do not want more taxes. They want the government to act fiscally responsibly and find the money within the existing budgetary framework.

Health Care System
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on a comment that has been made several times by the opposition during the debate, which is the reference to the fact that the United States spends more on public health care per capita than does Canada.

I point out, given the fact that the U.S. health care system is not universal, that there are enormous numbers of people left out, this very statistic that the opposition is citing all the time indicates that public health care delivery in the United States is hugely inefficient, much more inefficient than in Canada.

Health Care System
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe Canadians want a rational, reasonable approach to the health care issue. I also believe Canadians want a government to deal with this and not push it off, as the government has done for 30 years, and see a steady decline in the health care system.

Canadians are looking for answers. They want to see the health care system improved. Their bottom line is, in my view, timely accessibility to the health care system and they want it through a public system. If that means there needs to be some private delivery within that, we are prepared to look at that.

The business of a dedicated tax for health care has been raised. We are prepared to look at that as well but we do not believe that it is necessary. The provinces and Canadians need to have the chance to read and digest all the reports from the Kirby commission and the Romanow commission to understand what is being asked of them, which is an increase in funding. We think it is incumbent upon the government to look within its budgetary framework. We have identified lots of areas of government spending that are low priority, such as regional development programs from coast to coast to coast and business subsidies to companies like Bombardier.

We believe that if Canadians were asked whether they would rather give money to Bombardier or have more money for health care, we think they would choose health care. Therefore why is the government playing the stock market for us in a de facto position in the stock market? That is really what it is doing.

In terms of the U.S., I think my figures stand in spite of the fact that a big portion of its health care is being delivered by private insurance. Even its sector from the public side spends more money per GDP than we do in Canada. We think there have to be some efficiencies there but the government has really let the side down. It has let the side down by letting the ball drop. Back in the 1970s the government promised to pay 50% of the cost of health care. What do we have today? We have 14% on average.

The government is not doing the job for Canadians. We think it has failed Canadians miserably on the health care issue.