Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-32, an act to implement certain provisions of budget 2000. This morning I listened with great interest when the government member spoke about the wonders of budget 2000 and the wonderful effects its implementation will have on Canadians. I thought about how a country measures success and realized that a country measures success by the success of its citizens.
The Minister of Health and other government members talk about health care and the fact they have reinvested in health care because Canadians have said they want to maintain a public health care system. I wonder why the government does not want to talk about the realities we see every day, certainly in my part of the country, with respect to what government cuts have done to health care.
Recently I turned on the television to watch a program about two individuals in two different provinces in Canada. One was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour and had to undergo surgery. Unfortunately she ended up disabled. She was only in her early thirties. It was found out later that the tumour was not cancerous, that it was benign. It was the matter of a misdiagnosis.
The other case involved an older gentleman with some abdominal pain. He went to the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel. Following surgery, approximately 10 or 12 days later he died because of complications from the surgery, only for his wife to find out that he too had not had cancer.
The show went on to talk to approximately seven Canadian pathologists. The commentator was asking them how this could happen in Canada. The pathologists said very clearly that it was because there was not enough money being invested into the system. There are not enough pathologists in Canada. The number they quoted was 59 pathologists for every million.
I come from the health care sector. I have found myself asking on a number of occasions what kind of a country we live in. I heard the remarks of my hon. colleague in the Bloc. He asked whether we were living in a better society.
When I listen to government members, I guess from their perspective there are some people who are living in a better society. The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle has just mentioned a couple of them, those individuals in Canada who are not scraping by on a daily basis. What about the areas of the country where people are not doing all that well, as in the unfortunate case of Cape Breton? What is the government's answer? It does not want to talk about the reality that we have 1.5 million more children who will go to bed hungry than we did 10 years ago. The government does not want to talk about the fact that we are hearing from doctors and health care professionals that there is a major problem with the health care system and we need the government to reinvest money.
Nobody is saying that the system does not need to be changed. From the perspective of the health care system, we all know there is a need for innovation, but we also know, and we are being told on a regular basis, that the government has to put back what it took out of health care.
In my part of the country we have 25% poverty. Child poverty is much higher. Government members would tell us that their commitments to EI, health care and education have made things better for Canadians. Better for all Canadians, or better for some Canadians? We see on a regular basis that the answer to that question is that these policies have not been for the betterment of all Canadians.
Five or six years ago Canadians were willing to do their fair share to deal with the deficit. That was our responsibility as Canadians. People did that, especially the workers. As we all know, the government obtained its surplus on the backs of Canadians.
We are all familiar with a program that used to be called unemployment insurance. It was there in case we lost our job. It was a safety net to help us until we got another job. The government changed the name to employment insurance and it has become nothing more than a cash cow to generate revenues for the federal government. Might I say that those revenues are not assisting the unemployed.
Only 30% of unemployed women in Canada qualify for employment insurance. We have heard government members and the Prime Minister recently say that there are problems with employment insurance which will have to be fixed. Maybe that will secure some seats for them in Atlantic Canada.
What has the government done? In my part of the country it has is changed the boundaries. We used to have five regions in Nova Scotia. The proposal of the government is to take it down to three regions. The government says it will do this to ensure that the areas of the country which have the highest rates of unemployment will receive what the people need. The reality is, in my part of the country the changing of the boundaries will mean that the people of Cape Breton will now only qualify for 30 weeks of employment insurance, rather than 32 weeks.
Something I have always found phenomenal when listening to government members is that they are wonderful at confusing Canadians with numbers. We always hear them talk about 18% unemployment in my part of the country. I have had the occasion to ask Statistics Canada how the unemployment rate is measured. An official told me that if people were unemployed for two years they would be included in the data of Statistics Canada. I do not know about central Canada, but in Cape Breton if someone does not have a job for two, three, four or five years, they are still unemployed. They still do not have a job. However, unless they have been unemployed for two years they are not included in the mechanism used by the government to measure the number of unemployed. With the changing of the zones in my part of the country Cape Breton will fall under an unemployment rate of 15%.
When I go home and talk to my constituents about the policies and the changes that the government is talking about, people laugh. They know it is not 18%. They know the rate is closer to 40% or 45%, with some areas of Cape Breton at 50%. With the stroke of a pen the government will now officially say that the unemployment rate on Cape Breton Island is 15%.
I go back to my original comment. How do we as a country measure success? Do we not measure it by the success of our citizens? It certainly appears that the government does not measure its success by its citizens. If that were the case, then the government would be addressing the issues and the concerns directly affecting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
When government members talk about how good the budget is, I hope some of them have a conscience and recognize in their own heart that this budget will not assist the number of Canadians who have been drastically affected by the policies of the government.