Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to rise on behalf of my constituents in Parkdale--High Park in Toronto to speak to this important motion submitted to the House by my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I will read the motion:
That, in the opinion of the House, the drastic increase in income inequality under recent Liberal and Conservative governments harms Canadian society; and that the House express its opposition to the Conservative income splitting proposal which will make this problem worse and provide no benefit to 86% of Canadians.
This is of great interest to my constituents in Parkdale--High Park, because we have a very diverse community in the city of Toronto. We have very low-income people in the community. We have tenants. We have homeowners. There are people with varying incomes, single families. and non-traditional families. There are people who work in a wide diversity of occupations.
I would ask Canadians, through the House, especially members of my community of Parkdale--High Park, this. If they were to ask their government to invest $3 billion every single year on their behalf, how would they want it invested? They might ask for better housing. They might ask that every Canadian have a decent place to live. So many families would say to invest in a quality national child care system, like in most modern democracies around the world. Let us invest in our children first. Would that not be a wonderful thing for the majority of Canadian families to take advantage of?
We have a baby explosion in my riding. Urban legend says that my riding has one of the highest rates of newborns. I do not know if that is true, but there are a lot of young families. I hear from so many parents that if they can even find child care, it costs them practically a second mortgage to pay for that service, because it is so expensive for parents across the country, except in the province of Quebec. While it is not perfect, Quebec certainly has a far better, far more affordable, accessible child care system.
Many of our community members might ask why we do not fulfill the dream of that great social democrat, Tommy Douglas. Tommy Douglas brought us medicare, and Canadians who have to stay in a hospital in this country thank their lucky stars that they have our medicare system and that they do not have to mortgage their houses or go into deep debt to have a hospital stay.
Tommy Douglas had a bigger vision. He wanted not only acute care covered through our medicare system but also a pharmacare system. He wanted us to be able to afford the medications we need when we need them and not have to go into debt or choose between paying the rent and paying for the drugs we need. He also envisioned a home care system so that people with disabilities and seniors could stay in their own homes and have the care they need. He envisioned long-term care so that if people had to go into long-term care, they would not have a situation, as we do in the province of Ontario, where time and time again there are scandals about some of the most vulnerable people in our society, our seniors, people with serious disabilities, being exploited and not getting the care they need in private home settings.
We might want to fulfill his dream of a dental care program so that every person in this country, every child, every senior, had access to good quality dental care.
These would be some of the wonderful ideas Canadians could suggest for investing $3 billion a year.
Instead, the government would take $3 billion a year of Canadians' hard-earned tax dollars, taxes that everyone pays, and spend it on the wealthiest 14% of Canadians. Even in that wealthiest 14% of Canadians, two-thirds of the wealthiest would get maybe $500 a year, if they were lucky. They would get a little bit, but many of the people in the other third would get $5,000 or more back from our tax dollars. This is taking from everybody, especially the middle class, and giving to the very richest. It is opposite of Robin Hood, and it is simply bad economic policy.
It is not just New Democrats who are saying it is bad economic policy. At the C.D. Howe Institute, the most credible economists in Canada today are speaking out against this measure. Even my hon. former colleague, former minister of finance Jim Flaherty, expressed his concern that this was not a good way to spend our tax dollars. I notice that even our colleagues in the Liberal Party have belatedly come on board and said they also do not think it is good policy. We are glad to see that change of heart on their behalf, because this plan leaves out nine out of 10 Canadian families. It is simply bad economic policy.
Let us take a look at who is completely left out. Anybody who makes less than $44,000 a year is left out. If a couple make above that but are both in the same tax bracket, they are left out. Single people, couples with no kids, couples with kids who are over the age of 18, and people who are divorced are all left out.
I want to say too that this proposal, this Conservative plan, especially when combined with the completely and indefensibly inadequate child care system in this country, would also encourage many women to just stay home. I think that is why many of my Conservative colleagues are so in favour of it. They have heard from REAL Women, the social conservative women's organization, which has said that it likes this kind of tax policy because it encourages the traditional family.
I am a big fan of the TV show Modern Family, because when I go out in my community of Parkdale—High Park, it is more like Modern Family. However, this policy is more like Leave it to Beaver. That might have been a swell period after the war, and I am sure some of my colleagues across the aisle have fond memories of it, but some equate it to the Mad Men era, and Don Draper would love this policy. Don Draper would be able to claim the full amount under this proposal. He would love this.
It is not proposing something that makes good use of our tax dollars or something that makes sense to the vast majority of Canadians and fits with the modern reality.
This motion also points to increased inequality in Canada. We saw it skyrocket in the 1990s under our colleagues, the Liberals, when they made the biggest social spending cuts in the history of our country and cut the national housing program, the national minimum wage, and, sadly, many other programs.
What New Democrats want is a fairer, shared prosperity for all Canadians. We want to improve services. We would put $3 billion to work for the benefit of all Canadians. Whether living in my community or by the Humber River or in Parkdale or High Park or Roncesvalles, all families would benefit from those improved social services. They would not have to be Don Draper or the Cleaver family from the 1950s. We would enact modern policy to benefit all Canadians.