Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-3.
Before doing so, I must first thank and express my deep admiration, appreciation and respect for the very good people of Etobicoke North. Many in our community have become real family and friends. I thank the people of Etobicoke North for the privilege of humbling serving them. I promise to raise their issues in this great House and to fight for what is important to them.
Today I will tackle jobs, health and the environment.
Etobicoke North is one of thirteen priority areas for the city of Toronto. The people in my riding want jobs. Our youth want jobs. As a result, I spend many constituency days meeting fathers, mothers and young people who are unemployed, correcting covering letters and resumes, providing job interviewing skills and, most important, finding placements and work for our community members.
Last Parliament I was able to lobby the government for a new jobs program for our community, but my community needs more help now. It needs a real plan for job creation and a plan for youth employment. How many jobs will the next phase of the government's plan produce? How many of these jobs will come to Etobicoke North?
Going forward, I believe health care will be a defining issue of the next four years. My constituents, like Canadians across the country, want their health care system to be there when they and their families need it most.
During the election, family after family told me they wanted federal leadership on hospital wait times. A 2011 study from the Canadian Institutes for Health Information shows wait times for priority procedures vary widely across the provinces. For example, in some provinces more than half of cataract and knee replacement patients wait longer than the recommended time frames for their procedures. Currently no pan-Canadian benchmarks exist for CT and MRI scans, both necessary for diagnosis.
Let me highlight the importance of diagnostic imaging. One Canadian patient, 77 years old who was in growing pain, losing weight and becoming steadily more ill over the course of many months was told to wait for five months for an MRI, despite the fact that her doctor suspected she had cancer. As the result, her family paid more than $11,000 U.S., out of pocket, for a trip to the Mayo Clinic. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Canadians want better results from their health care system, particularly at a time when our aging population is putting pressure on the system's ability to deliver. I believe Alzheimer's disease and other dementia are among the most significant and critical health care issues in Canada, and we cannot ignore them.
Today 500,000 Canadians suffer with some form of dementia. The impact on those with the illness, and on their families, is profound, as is the cost to society, $15 billion today, $150 billion in 30 years.
Where is a national or federal strategy to cope with the rising tide of dementia? Existing federal programs, research funding, support and income assistance pale in comparison to the enormous and rapidly escalating health, economic and social impacts of this devastating disease.
In the last Parliament I introduced a bill to establish a national Alzheimer's office within the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop, in conjunction with provincial health departments, a comprehensive national plan to address all aspects of Alzheimer's disease and related dementia and specifically to improve the lives of persons with dementia and decrease the burden on society.
My last point regarding health is the need for evidence-based policies. The government has been made aware that over 12,500 treatment procedures for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI, have now been undertaken worldwide in over 50 countries and that some MS patients report improved quality of life, including reduced brain fog, fatigue, improved circulation and motor skills following the procedure. Sometimes we ignore the obvious at our peril.
In 1982 Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, Australian physicians, identified a link between an ulcer and a bacterium and it was 1994 before the medical system recommended treating that bacterium with antibiotics.
Why is the government refusing to undertake a nationally funded multi-centre clinical trial to determine if treating CCSVI will improve the quality of life for MS patients, 55,000 to 75,000 of them in Canada? Multiple treatment trials are under way in the United States. It is time for Canada to act.
The last issue I will tackle is climate change, one of Earth's most pressing challenges and perhaps a defining issue of our generation.
The floods that devastated Pakistan, Venezuela and Colombia this year are a wake-up call. The wildfires that gripped Russia are a wake-up call. There will be worse impacts, more wake-up calls and no country will be exempt.
Despite this year's extreme weather warnings, the government failed to even mention climate change in the throne speech. No wonder we keep winning fossil awards for being followers instead of leaders on the world stage.
In 2009 the government missed a real opportunity for a triple win, a renewable stimulus with positive impacts on the economy, jobs and the atmosphere.
In 2009 it invested $1 billion in a green infrastructure fund over five years to support projects like public transit, sustainable energy and waste management. In stark contrast, Germany invested $13 billion, the United States $50 billion and China $221 billion, or 220 times that of Canada.
Is the government missing another opportunity in 2011 with its clean air agenda?
Climate change is not a closed case. We can rise to the challenge, as in the past when major powers rose to the challenge. They built country-wide railways, they fought in World War I and World War II and they travelled to the moon.
If all current plans and pledges to cut or limit emissions were delivered completely on time, global emissions would still keep growing during the next 10 years. Canada has a responsibility to make progress on the 2020 target and not just one-quarter of the way.
More stringent actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot be postponed much longer. Otherwise the opportunity to keep the average global temperature rise below 2° Celsius is in danger and serious impacts are associated with this limit, including an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, shifts in growing seasons and sea level rise.
Climate change was missing from the throne speech and is wholly under-represented in budget 2011. Canada should honestly listen to the voice from the front line on climate change, should ensure that those impacted by climate change are meaningfully involved and that those who make the decisions must be accountable to those impacted.
Finally, it is important for the government to realize that individuals are making change in their own lives and that they want change on the national and international stage.
It is also important that parliamentarians ask this question. “Is this something my children would be proud of?”
Climate negotiations require sacrifice. We must negotiate for our children who are not here. We have to accept moral responsibility.