Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to follow that very impressive intervention.
I will be sharing my time today with the member for Thérèse-De Blainville.
It is a great honour for me to rise today and debate this motion on the floor with my colleagues, but I want to start by talking a bit about my staff that is serving the great constituents of Edmonton Centre. Edmonton Centre is an urban centre that has certainly been impacted by COVID, and the work that they have put forward is quite remarkable. Along with my responsibilities as shadow minister for small business and export promotion, I have the added burden of trying to work through the issues with small businesses and trying to help those small businesses that are struggling throughout the country.
I also want to talk about the people who have had to make adjustments in this very difficult time. I have a very personal story on that. I have a son, Garrett, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Garrett has been struggling through this difficult time with COVID, but he has managed to complete his masters in global security online. It proves to me that we can do remarkable things when we set our minds to it.
If Garrett were here today, he would tell members that I am his voice, and he believes I should be here debating legislation. He would tell me that is why I am here. That is what I should be doing: not serving on a committee, but debating legislation. That is important to him, and it is important to my constituents.
Conservatives have been calling for Parliament to get back in a full way to be able to debate legislation. Of course we want to do it in a healthy way, following all the particular guidelines.
This proposal by the Liberals is an improvement from what we heard before, but it still fails in that it does not allow us to debate legislation. With that, we miss other things. We miss opposition days. We miss emergency debates. We miss the opportunity to debate private members' bills, order publication of government documents and debate and vote on committee reports. We also do not have all the committees sitting, so it is not full Parliament: It is a committee.
On the notion of private members' bills, it is incredibly important for members here, and particularly for new members like me, to be able to put forward bills and have them be debated, which we have not been able to do. I happen to be one of the lucky people: I drew sixth in line.
The private member's bill that I put forward, if someone would like to look at it, is Bill C-229. It is a bill that we are really going to need as we come out of COVID, because we are going to have to generate enormous amounts of revenue in this country to try to get back on track. This bill repeals the restrictions on tankers off the coast of B.C. This is an incredibly important issue in my province and for the rest of Canada, because the resource industry in this country has helped to fuel a lot of the infrastructure, a lot of the things that we have come to enjoy and the lifestyle that we have come to enjoy.
There is another important private member's bill. It breaks my heart that we are not able to debate it and see it go through. It was from one of my colleagues who drew the number one spot. It is from the member for Calgary Confederation, on the establishment of a national organ and tissue donor registry in Canada. It is Bill C-210, and I am hoping my colleagues will support it, but we should be talking about it now.
We need tremendous oversight in these times, with what is going on with COVID. That oversight has to include watching the spending of the government. The Auditor General said he needs another $10 million to properly do his job, to make sure that he can audit and do performance audits on those things that are important to this country. We are not able to pass any legislation. The Auditor General should be doing his job, and that oversight is even more important now, because we have heard from the PBO suggesting that there could be $250-billion worth of debt.
In questioning the PBO at committee, the level of confidence on $250 billion is very low. I suspect it could be at a three or a four. It is not just about the money; it is about how the money is spent and being accountable to the taxpayers. That does not even talk about the increasing household debt. It does not talk about the increase in provincial debt and municipal debt.
We need to see a budget. We need to be able to debate a budget, given the stresses of the economy, with a budget that will give a go-forward plan. Currently we do not have a go-forward plan. We have a reaction to the issue, but we need a plan to be able to understand where we are going and how we are going to come out of this.
We need to be able to debate this economic recovery after this first wave of the pandemic. What will happen to investments in the country, both the investments that we have now and the investments that have gone out of the country.
We need to talk about the debt that people are taking on. Almost every program is debt, debt, deferral; debt, debt, deferral. It is hard for businesses. They are going to have a hard time recovering from this.
Small businesses, of which I have been hearing from thousands, are working hard just trying to keep the doors open. These programs for further debt and deferrals are going to hit hard in September. We should be debating these issues. We should be talking about legislation to help those businesses before that happens in the fall.
Another point that the Liberals have been quiet on includes the changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations and especially for patients with cystic fibrosis. These changes incorporate new factors in determining whether a medicine is being or has been sold at excessive prices. The review board's changes would require patented drug manufacturers to significantly reduce their prices, a good thing, but making Canada a less attractive market to launch innovative therapies such as precision medicines that can alter the course of conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
The review board's changes affect private drug plans and patient access to new medicines for Canadians. These changes are currently on track to be implemented July 1. Already registration for new clinical trials have decreased by over 60%, from November 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020, because of these changes. These changes also affected the approval of new drugs, showing a drop of more than two-thirds.
One of the advocates to fight against these changes is Sandy. She lives in my riding. Her 14-year-old daughter, Laura, is battling cystic fibrosis. They, along with thousands of other Canadians, are fighting for access to a new drug called Trikafta, which has shown significant improvements in the lives of people suffering from cystic fibrosis by treating all cell levels and helping with lung performances. While other drugs in the past were treating symptoms, this actually improves lung performance and has been deemed the closest thing to a cure.
The parent company, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, has not yet applied to Health Canada because of the review board's regulatory changes, while it has been ready for approval in the U.S. market since last year. Canadians need access to this life-changing drug.
I want to acknowledge my colleague, the member for Parliament for Edmonton Riverbend, who has been working hard on this issue. These are the sorts of things we should be debating.
I ran for office and I came to this place to debate legislation. That is why I am here. That is what my constituents want me to do. They want me to serve them at home, but they also want me to serve them in this place and debate legislation. Let us get on with it. I know we can do it. I look forward to when we can actually debate legislation again.