That is right. It is debatable but it is not negotiable. I seem to recognize that same line in many issues we are dealing with in the House. Health care is a great example of the problems we are in: It is debatable but in no way is it negotiable.
One cannot cover, in our health care system, 100 per cent of the cost 100 per cent of the time. That never was a reality and it has never been more true than it is today. The member alluded to our aging population. It is putting tremendous pressure on a system that is in dire need of an overhaul. It is not just Ontario that has a health care crisis. Every province is looking for negotiation, discussion and flexibility in the role of the federal government, a flexibility that sadly is not there.
This is a housekeeping bill. There are really no monetary expenditures involved so we have no grounds to oppose it. I should not say there is no cost. There is always a cost when we debate a bill in the time it takes to debate it. While there is no reason to debate the reorganization, there is a very strong reason to discuss health care. Reorganization is important. Rethinking health care is critical.
Everyone agrees that we must change, that we have a serious problem. I paraphrase the Prime Minister when he spoke in an interview with CBC radio. He said that the system was put in place to protect Canadian citizens from catastrophic crises in health and the family so they would not lose their homes. He said very clearly what we have been saying, that this was never intended to cover 100 per cent of the problems 100 per cent of the time.
He also alluded to the fact that the 10 per cent of GDP spent on health care is too high. It is the second highest in the world next to the United States and must be reduced. Those are the words, but where is the plan to accomplish that? There is nothing. What we got in the debate this morning were more words and more rhetoric with no plan to deal with health care.
Medicare is our most valued social program. Part of the rhetoric from the other side is that we are out to savage and destroy medicare when the reality is that we are the only party in this House that is dedicated to saving medicare for those in our country who need it. It needs support. It needs fresh thinking.
One of the major threats to medicare, indeed to all our social programs, is Canada's deficit and debt. The overspending that has taken place over the years has put us into a tremendous debt hole. That is the real threat to health care.
The finance minister continues day after day when he gets up in the House to pat himself on the back for reaching 3 per cent of GDP. He is not eliminating the overspending, he is reducing it. He
will have it reduced to 3 per cent of GDP. We are still living beyond our means.
In saying that, the finance minister is not telling the Canadian people what is the real danger to our social programs. While he is attempting to achieve this very low target, the debt is increasing from $400 billion to $500 billion to $600 billion in the term of this government, an increase of some $111 billion. Shame. That is what is killing health care and the social programs today.
The interest payments are going from $30 billion to $40 billion to $50 billion to service the debt. That $50 billion does not create one hospital bed. It does nothing for health care, yet the government is prepared to see that kind of overspending continue, to see that kind of debt accumulate and to see that $50 billion go up in smoke while not creating one job, not doing one thing to save our social programs. That is the real killer and that is the real threat to health care.
If we do not change we are in danger of losing medicare. If we do not start to open up our minds and be prepared to debate and to negotiate, we will be in danger of losing health care. Those who only talk are the real threat. Action is required. We do not know how much time we have to deal with this problem although we know it is not unlimited.
We want real debate, not cheap shots or rhetoric like "we are going to save medicare and there is the heartless group that will not". We want to have debate about a real plan, a plan to deal with the problem we are facing today.
There is a plan we should be talking about which has a three-pronged approach. The first is the stability of medicare funding. Funding for medicare needs to be stabilized so the provinces know where they are at. We have to focus our existing resources and we have define what the core of our health care is going to be. We have to offer choices beyond medicare. We have to face the realities of what is out there today.
In affirming medicare and supporting funding stability we must return to the best health care safety net in the world. We must remove the existing funding freeze and restore the per capita transfers to 1992-93 levels which Liberals continue to cut by stealth. The remaining cash transfers should be converted to tax points because as far behind as we are falling in the original 50:50 deal, it is going to be even less of a payer in the future.
A better job has to be done in focusing our resources. Canadians need to define what constitutes core or essential health care services. There needs to be a debate among the people about what those core services should be and medicare must be reserved for those core services.
We should look at the choices and the possibility of choices beyond medicare, remove the existing restrictions in law which prohibit choices in basic health care beyond publicly funded health care. Where medicare does not meet Canadians' needs they should have the option to exercise choices beyond medicare. Where Canadians exercise choice beyond medicare they will be responsible for arranging appropriate private funding on such choices, for example, with employers through benefit plans with third party insurance and through private resources.
Let the debate begin on some real solutions to dealing with the crisis in health care. All of the provinces, not just Ontario, are looking for that.
In closing, medicare is our most valued social program. I reinforce the fallacy in saying that only the federal government has a heart, only the federal government is concerned about saving health care. It belittles the premiers of the provinces to suggest that they would in any way be heartless or not be concerned about health care in their provinces. They will answer to the voters in their provinces for the job that they do in looking after their people and not going to the federal government and get into this "I'm not at fault, they're at fault" argument which has brought us to the point we are at today.
Talk will not do it. There needs to be a plan. Debate must begin on that plan. We must act now. I believe time is limited. Future Canadians, our children and our grandchildren, are counting on us to do that and Canadians deserve nothing less.