Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to join in this debate. It has been very interesting to listen to my colleagues in the House, most of whom have said what we all feel on this side of the House anyway, which is that this is a very unfair thing that is about to happen.
It is awful to realize that the House does not respect the work of the committee. When groups of people from all parties sit together to come up with recommendations, that is something that takes a lot of effort, time and cooperation, and is something that is unusual in politics. When a committee can come together and make a firm recommendation as to what has to happen to better serve the people of Canada and then the government throws that recommendation out the window and puts forward whatever it is it wishes to do, it does not sit well with anyone.
In my own constituency I have heard from many of my constituents about this exact problem. For years people have qualified for the disability tax credit. Their disabilities have not gone away. Disabilities do not just disappear overnight. There have been no miracles. These people are still as disabled as they were when they began.
On top of all of the other trials and tribulations they have to go through on a daily basis, they now have to justify still being disabled. I cannot imagine a government wasting time on something like this. I would be the first person to stand and say that if fraud was taking place, then we need to use the full measure of the law to prevent the fraud from happening.
However, in cases where people have AIDS, as do 12 of my constituents, in order for them to survive on a day to day basis, they require $400 to $500 worth of medication every month. It is obvious that people who have AIDS still have AIDS. Either people have it or they have passed away. It is not a matter of its having miraculously disappeared. These people are now in a position where they cannot afford to buy the medication that is required to keep them alive. This has come from a government that says it supports all people. I have a great deal of difficulty with that.
I have also talked to another one of my constituents who finds himself in an even worse predicament. The predicament I suppose to some would be called pride, but it is not pride. One of the questions on the questionnaire is “Can you dress yourself?” This man has been a contributing member of society his entire life. The disability happened to him without very much warning. He has the pride of being able to continue to dress himself.
What this man does not get a chance to say on that questionnaire, and what his doctor does not get a chance to say on that questionnaire, is that it takes him three full hours to get dressed. When he gets up in the morning, that is his daily routine. By the time he gets his buttons done up, his arms in the sleeves, his socks on his feet and all the rest of the things that go into getting dressed in the morning done, which we could probably do in 30 seconds if we were in a hurry, he is so exhausted, that is it for the day. He has to lie down and rest .
Does this man require some support through disability? Yes, indeed he does, but with the way the form reads, he will not be entitled to it. His doctor has to put the x there because, yes indeed the man can dress himself. That is about all he is able to do and it takes him all day to do it, but with the way the questionnaire is worded, there are no options.
When I was growing up, I had the privilege of having a man in my life, my sister's brother-in-law, whose name is John Stranne. John Stranne is a brilliant man who at a very early age was destined to be a prodigy. His interest was in science. At the age of 12 years he decided to build a rocket. As he was putting the rocket together, he very foolishly, and I know John would not mind my saying that, held the rocket between his legs at the knees. As sometimes happens, things did not go right, the rocket exploded and John lost his legs.
If we were to tell John today that he was disabled he would be very offended. He is probably the most independent man I have ever met in my life. He has taught me many lessons over the years about handling adversity, making do with what one has, and being grateful. He does qualify as a disabled person. To be quite honest with my colleagues, we have not talked about this. I am not sure whether he is even on that disabled list, but I will tell members that having no legs is a definite disability.
John has managed over the years to overcome his disability. He can get around faster than most people with two good legs. He has also managed to make major contributions to the country, to his family and to all those who have known him.
There are things that he must do to be able to do his job. One of those things is putting in a hand steering wheel with special gears. There are day-to-day things that we would not even think about that is something that he lives, eats and breathes every day.
Is he entitled to some compensation or are people like himself entitled to compensation? Of course they are. So are the people who have found themselves in the same position as one of my constituents who takes the better part of a day to put on his clothes.
Several times today the question has come up of whether the person can get the spoon to his or her mouth. Certainly there are a lot of people who can get the spoon to their mouth. That is not the hard part. The hard part is preparing the food that goes into the bowl that the spoon goes in so the person can sustain his or her body. We are not taking that into consideration.
The government has made some poor choices in the two years that I have been here. This is a perfect example of another poor choice. It seems to me that the government targets the disabled and the elderly. I am speaking from only two years of experience.
However, I have seen what happened with my own constituent, a war veteran who is being ignored. We have the war veteran situation that is being ignored and now disabled people have their disability credit taken away. They still live day in and day out with this issue.
We have so many things done by the government that are wasteful and that we could go after and attack, pare down, and make Canada a better country. Why is it that the government would choose to pick those who are least able to defend themselves? This legislation would be damaging, harmful and of no benefit to any Canadian.
Recent court rulings regarding this credit have interpreted the legislation in a more humane and compassionate manner than the finance department is willing to accept. I come from a party that believes in accountability for taxpayers' dollars and believes we must be transparent in our dealings with money. It may sound odd that I would think that the finance department should take a better look at this. However, that is truly what I do believe.
Let us try our best as a government to eliminate any possibility of fraud, but in that process let us not damage and harm people who are not in a position to defend themselves. That is not what Canada is about.
We have just celebrated Remembrance Day. We have seen what people have done to give us the rights and freedoms we have. We cannot ignore that and we cannot pass things that are absolutely contrary to what Canadian values are all about.