Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to express in very clear terms the opposition of the New Democratic Party to Bill C-28. The reasons for our opposition are many, but there is one overriding concern that must be dealt with very clearly in this debate.
In the process of expressing our opposition to the bill, let me say how concerned we are to find once again the government of the day wielding the heavy hand of time allocation and bringing in closure on a very important debate before us and the Canadian people.
The most critical, the most controversial aspect of Bill C-28 is the section that applies to health care financing and specifically amends the financing arrangements for health care under the Canada health and social transfer. We are dealing with, as we have done on many occasions, a government that is prepared to delve into illusory politics, to act like the great pretender and to imply that it is doing some great service for health care when all along it is a misrepresentation.
We have heard time and time again from the government that it is investing new money in health care. That is a galling statement when we consider the fact that we are not dealing with any new moneys for health care. We are dealing simply with a cancelled cut and the legislation before us verifies the fact that is all the government is prepared to do at a time when health care is in crisis.
This is also an opportunity to talk about our visions for health care. We are all asking what is the vision of the Liberal government when it comes to medicare. We have not heard any plan from the government. We are still waiting to see when the millennium health care budget will happen. We are still waiting to get details from the government on how it will deal with the health care crisis.
At the same time we are dealing with a very serious situation, pronouncements from the Reform Party about the kind of health care system it would like to see. That in itself should speak to the Liberal government and remind it of the urgency. I certainly hope the Liberal government is vehemently opposed to the kind of proposal being advanced by the Reform Party.
I remind members of the vision of the Reform Party on health care. Within the past two weeks the member for North Vancouver suggested to the House that we needed more competition in our health care system. He said that he received better health care in Florida than he has received under socialized medicine in Canada. We have not heard such regressive, reactionary comments in the last 30 years. All of a sudden they are appearing at a time when we need leadership and not reactionary statements like that one.
The member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca told us over the past few days about his vision and Reform's vision for health care. On behalf of the Reform Party he advanced a parallel system of health care: one for the rich and one for the poor. That is the antithesis of everything that has shaped the country including the medicare we have today. It is absolute Americanization and privatization of our health care system, the absolute opposite of what Canadians want to see from this place and from their government. That is why this debate is so critical.
With one voice we need to tell the government to preserve medicare. Canadians want medicare preserved. That means a genuine reinvestment to make up for the tremendous amount of money that has been chopped out of this system over the last number of years, in particular during the time the federal Liberal government has been in power.
I will put the chronology of events on record to point out the seriousness of the situation. We need not forget that the whole erosion of medicare began under the Mulroney Conservative government with several pieces of legislation that changed a funding formula that made sense and that ensured federal cash transfers to the provinces would grow as the economy and the population grew. The Mulroney government changed that formula over several years to ensure that growth in health care transfer payments would end. We realized at that point that under that formula cash transfer payments to the provinces would dwindle to zero in short order if that were allowed to continue.