Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-43.
We certainly do not have any western alienation in the House of Commons tonight. We are having a great debate about British Columbia and the different politics there, but I would like to continue the debate on Bill C-43. I want to talk about its importance with regard to moving this country forward in this fiscal year, and also some of the changes that we can make to address some of the significant problems that we face as a country.
Earlier in tonight's debate, I missed the fact that the member for Beaches—East York actually voted in favour of my private member's bill, Bill C-274. I would like to thank her for that. She was one of the few members opposite who joined with us on that very important bill. We are talking about the health care reform issues that are so important.
We are talking about the budget bill right now. The first ministers agreement regarding health care is coming late in the day and there are many problems with it. Hopefully, it will at least provide an avenue to address some of the health care problems. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that private insurance coverage can be purchased in the province of Quebec.
My Bill C-274, which the member for Beaches—East York voted for, actually addressed one of the issues, the issue of evergreening. That is one of the regulatory issues that has to be changed.
This budget has significant investments in health care, something that has been well noted. Health care is an important backstop in terms of Canadian culture. The fact is that Tommy Douglas, the greatest Canadian, helped to found this great nation's health care system. Health care has also been a tremendous source of economic investment and prosperity for the country.
General Motors in the United States is undergoing significant layoffs, around 25,000 people, because of some of the problems that GM has. The most notable is the cost of health care for GM's workers. In fact, the cost to General Motors in the United States is about $1,500 per vehicle. The private insurance scheme in the United States has failed miserably. That is why U.S. legislatures have started to address the issue of evergreening. My bill did as well, but it was defeated in the last session of Parliament unfortunately.
There is a need to rein in and control the incredible cost of drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. The costs are spiralling out of control because of patent issues related to evergreening. That is where there is an automatic injunction so that after 20 years, when a generic company is entitled to produce that drug for the Canadian public, the drug company can automatically say that others are infringing upon its patent without any proof whatsoever.
Imagine that. In any court anywhere in this country without any shred of evidence or proof, the company will automatically get a two year extension to its patent. No other industry has that privilege. We are the only country left in the world that has that provision. Even the United States under George Bush changed this policy. It is unbelievable. It is a scandal in itself.
With Bill C-43 and the NDP improvements in Bill C-48, we are putting significant revenues into health care. We want to make sure that we maintain the Canadian identity and cultural tradition of medicare for all people in Canada. We are investing in it significantly, but at the same time we are allowing ourselves to be fleeced. On top of that, when drug companies received the patent extension deal from the Liberals to extend it to 20 years, they were supposed to put 10% back into research and development which had to be done in Canada. They negotiated a deal where it was not compulsory. It was voluntary. Voluntary agreements with the pharmaceutical industry have not worked. They have never met that 10%, even when they include packaging as part of that research and development, and I do not see how packaging and research and development go together. Nonetheless, the companies do not even meet that 10% commitment.
That is why when we are talking about a budget, we are talking about investing in Canadians. It cannot just be about spending money. It is also about regulatory changes.
We did not like the corporate tax cut that was in the budget Bill C-43. We said that from day one. We said it was not acceptable. I did not mind the tax cuts for small and medium size businesses, but the large corporations have had record profits. A Report on Business survey once again had corporate profits surging 21% in the first quarter.
We have heard a number of different people in the corporate sector say that the sky is falling. They are trying to create hysteria that this minuscule amount of money for corporate tax cuts taken out of the system is going to collapse the Canadian economy. We have heard from them on a regular basis how disastrous this is going to be. Despite the $100 billion in total tax cuts over the last 10 years, they say that this little piece of the pie, an insignificant increase in spending at 1.15% of total spending which is what Bill C-48 is going to add, is going to collapse the Canadian economy. They say we are going to lose jobs.
Ironically, what they said after they criticized the NDP amendment was that we need to put the corporate tax cut in. What they are saying is that they need choices. We do not accept their choices, especially when there is a 21% increase in their profits. That is fine. It is okay for profits to be good, but there has to be a balance. Right now in the corporate sector, let us look at the banks and insurance companies and the premiums that Canadians are paying. I do not know many people in my constituency who are calling me to say that the banks are not making enough money and that if we give them a little more of a break they will cut back their service fees, increase staffing and open more branches. That is not happening. That is not what is going on. All I know is that I am constantly meeting with branches that are closing in my community. All I know is that consumers in my constituency are paying record prices for insurance.
I do not believe it is balanced by giving the corporations a break right now. I do not understand the notion that if they are going to get an additional profit it is going to feed the economy automatically. It does not work that way. It has not worked that way for the auto industry. Despite all the tax cuts that we have had, we have had to have government intervention on sectoral strategies and targeted investments. That is what they have asked for in infrastructure improvements in order to procure the few plants that we have over the last 10 years.
It is unfortunate that we are still fighting for an auto policy. We need to get some specifics on the table, so people can see greater accountability. When we invest in an auto facility there should be greater scrutiny in the way it is developed and the way the funding is applied. There is no problem with that, but the corporate tax cuts have not brought the plants here. They have been going to Mississippi, Alabama, Mexico, Brazil and China. It does not matter if we give them another percentile or two, it is not going to make them build another plant here. The companies are going to say that they want some training and infrastructure programs.
It comes back to what we are investing in in this budget, health care. They want health care. General Motors has $1,500 per vehicle added into the actual production costs in the United States. In Canada, it is around $400 for health care costs. That is about a $1,100 savings. It is amazing.
Mr. Speaker, I know I have to wrap up my speech, but I do want to say that working together in Parliament can happen. I was pleased to be part of getting a change made to the last budget. Corporations were able to deduct penalties for pollution and crimes at the end of the taxation year. After being caught polluting our air and water, they would be fined through a criminal process. They were actually able to get some of that money back. The Liberals did not live up to their agreement to fix that. I moved a motion at committee, which was supported by the Conservatives and the Bloc, that installed another amendment to get them to fix that.
We do work together in Parliament at times and we can actually achieve results for Canadians.