House of Commons Hansard #175 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bank.


Government AppointmentsAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we will have to save the parliamentary budget officer for another debate.

The Conservative Party is not really on side with a vast majority of Canadians. This is where we disagree.

Liberal members understood that there was a need for change, and this is part of the real change we talked about. We wanted to establish a process for making appointments that was different from what Stephen Harper and other prime ministers did. The results speak for themselves. Of those 122 people, over 60% are women, 13% are visible minorities, and 10% are indigenous people. All of them are highly qualified individuals for those appointments. I will compare that record to Stephen Harper's record any day.

We have a process the Conservative Party should get behind.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

May 11th, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 6, I asked the Minister of Health if the federal government would be giving the provinces the necessary funding to provide people with the services they need.

In recent months, the federal government has pressured the provinces and territories to accept agreements that slash health transfers from 6% to 3%. This measure is clearly a holdover from the Harper government's austerity policies and forces the provinces to absorb the predictable burden of rising health care costs over the next 10 years.

This will have a major impact in Quebec. Whereas 23% of Quebec's health care spending has been covered by federal transfers until now, only 20% of it will be in the future. Researchers say that Quebec is looking at a shortfall of almost $7.5 billion over 10 years.

The upshot for the people of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale, and for all Canadians, is longer wait times and fewer services. Quebec's health minister says that this agreement will have serious consequences well into the future. The cuts will compromise patient care quality and overload our professionals. The provinces have a major problem to solve here.

By putting the budgets of provincial governments at risk, the Liberals are opting for a dangerous short-term strategy that ignores growing challenges in the field, such as our aging population.

In addition, we regret the federal government's decision to resort to something much resembling blackmail to get these agreements signed. In fact, the $11.5 billion promised by the Liberal government was made available only to the provinces and territories that signed an agreement. There are two particularly troubling points here.

On the one hand, the government is reducing transfers to the provinces and disengaging financially from health care concerns. On the other hand, the lump sum it is offering is conditional on the provinces agreeing to certain priorities and meeting certain performance requirements.

This is a way for the government to increase its power and control over the provinces. We in the NDP condemn the Liberal government's desire to direct health policies without having to assume the costs. Who is better positioned than the provinces themselves to determine their own needs?

I would add that, by forcing these agreements, the Minister of Health set off a real tug-of-war between provincial and federal institutions. For instance, mental health and home care are already priorities for many provinces, such as Quebec, because they are familiar with the needs on the ground and did not need the federal government to tell them to make those things the priority.

In my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, health institutions work in partnership with countless community organizations and have an intimate knowledge of what our constituents need.

When I think about mental health community agencies, I think about the Centre psychosocial Richelieu-Yamaska, Contact Richelieu-Yamaska, and Collectif de défense des droits de la Montérégie. When I think about home care, I think about the volunteer centres in Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale, and the Aux P'tits soins co-operative.

All these organizations already do extraordinary work in mental health and home care. The government's initiative is positively absurd. Is the government establishing trusting relationships with the provinces and the territories when it comes to health? I do not think so.

In closing, I would like to know if the government plans to keep interfering in the provincial jurisdiction of health and impose its own will.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec


Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for her question and the interest she takes in these issues that are very important not just to her, but to the vast majority of Canadians, if not all Canadians, who care about and take great pride in their public and universal health care system.

Health care spending increases every year in Canada. In 2016, the cost of health care totalled $228 billion, or 11% of our GDP, our gross domestic product.

The provinces and territories were provided with increased funding for health care through the Canada health transfer. For 2017-18, the government has provided $36.1 billion to the provinces and territories through the Canada health transfer. This funding will continue to increase year over year according to the GDP growth rate, with a minimum increase of 3% per year. This exceeds the average annual increase in provincial funding for health care in recent years and is greater than the rate of inflation. In the next five years, this will amount to approximately $200 billion in support for health care.

In reality, the system has a hard time keeping up with the needs of today's families. There is a growing demand for prescription drugs, home care, and mental health care services, among other things.

That is not surprising. As the member mentioned, the population is aging. People are living longer. Chronic diseases are on the rise, and technological advances have an impact on our way of treating and caring for patients.

Through these changing realities, our system remains trapped in its original design of more than half a century ago, with a focus on high-priced institutional and specialist care. Given today's pressures, it makes more sense to shift health care delivery away from institutions into the homes of Canadians in their communities. This is why our government has shown leadership and a real commitment to engaging in a discussion with provinces and territories about how to improve health care in Canada.

In keeping with its mandate commitment to a new health accord, last December our government proposed to invest another $11.5 billion over 10 years to support targeted actions in home care, mental health, health innovation, and pharmaceuticals. These are the four areas federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to in January 2016 as the priorities for investment. Budget 2017 confirmed this federal offer, which includes $11 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories to improve home care and mental health services as well as $544 million over five years to federal and pan-Canadian health organizations to support health innovation and pharmaceutical initiatives. This investment, targeting improvements in home care and mental health, is unprecedented and will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians.

Providing funding to the provinces and territories based on their share of the Canadian population is an approach that allows the government to provide similar levels of support to all Canadians. Ultimately, we want to ensure that all Canadians have comparable access to improved home care and mental health care services. That is a fundamental principle that guides the actions of our government.

I will close by saying that the $11.5 billion in funding over 10 years for mental health and home care services has been generally well received and will make it possible to offer Canadians quality mental health care and home care services.

With regard to respect for jurisdictions, I just want to say one thing, and that is, in the case of Quebec, where I know the member is from, we also followed the principle of asymmetrical federalism, which recognizes Quebec's jurisdiction and its distinctiveness.

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my riding and elsewhere, the population is aging. The latest statistics show that a quarter of us are 65 or older. Going forward, more and more seniors will need care regardless of GDP growth and inflation. Seniors make a tremendous contribution to the vitality of our communities. They are active in countless associations, they organize events, and they advocate for causes they believe in. They pursue their passions and share their experience with future generations.

The RCMs of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton are proud of their seniors, who enhance their communities immeasurably. That is why I feel that these agreements are a reckless gamble with the future on the part of the Minister of Health and the government. Cutting health transfers jeopardizes the health and independence of our seniors and future generations. It denies them the right to enjoy their retirement under optimum conditions and compromises their active involvement in the community. Since we now have more seniors than young people, I would like to know if the government is aware of how challenging the aging population and the well-being of our seniors will be for Canada's future. Does the government understand how important it is to ensure that health transfers are sizeable enough for the provinces to take care of our seniors' health?

HealthAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are very aware of the challenges that come with the aging population.

The 3% increase in Canadian health transfers is greater than inflation, the projected GDP growth, and the annual average increase in provincial health spending. We are also committed to investing $11.5 billion over the next 10 years specifically in home care and mental health care. With an aging population, home care takes some of the pressure off the health care system.

Canadians expect the government to invest carefully in our health care system in order to achieve measurable results in improved health care.

However, there is no evidence to support the idea that our health care system simply needs more money. Canadians spend more on health per capita than any other country in the world, and many of those countries get better results by investing less money.

It is not only about spending more money, but rather about investing our dollars strategically to better meet the health needs of Canadians and their families today. We have a strong interest in helping to ensure that new money does not simply inflate an unsustainable system even further, but helps to strengthen health care on the road to long-term stability.

I am out of time, so I will conclude with that.

I thank the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for the question.

Air TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today during this adjournment debate to address a very important issue, that is the government's inability to find the money to repay the huge debt that it is accumulating for future generations.

What does this have to do with the subject at hand? We are talking about the sale of airports. Why is the Liberal government interested in selling airports? The answer is clear: the Liberal government's credit card is maxed out and it needs money to pay the interest on its debt, which is increasing every day. Its miracle solution is to sell assets such as Canadian airports.

The Prime Minister recently said that the sale of airports was not part of his plan and that he has other things to worry about. There are concerns. We really have to start worrying when the Prime Minister says that something is not going to happen

I clearly remember all the promises made by the Liberal candidates in all the regions during the election campaign. They promised to run up a tiny deficit. However, less than a month later, we learned that the deficit would be twice as high. Then last December, the Department of Finance, which is not currently being run by the Conservatives, released an analysis of economic forecasting—I can barely say the word “economic” when I am talking about Liberal governments—regarding the government's finances.

That analysis revealed that a return to a balanced budget would not happen until 2050. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister repeated over and over that it would be balanced by 2019. Unfortunately, now it will be 2050. It is unbelievable. My children and grandchildren will be the ones to pay for this deficit. If the Liberals stay until 2019, it will be our great-great-great-grandchildren who will be paying for it, because the deficit will go on forever.

Now then, to try to ease the pain and improve the numbers once the election approaches and to please even more Canadians, the magic solution is to sell our airports. However, that is not a sure thing. When we asked the Minister of Transport if he really planned on selling the airports to pay the interest on the debt, he replied that the government was taking care of aviation safety and that passenger rights were his top priority. We did not get an answer. When we asked for a copy of the Credit Suisse study on the privatization of airports, we were told that we could not have it.

For all these reasons, this evening, I am proud to rise here and say that selling our airports is not a good idea. In fact, a Liberal senator agrees with me. I will have the opportunity to talk more about that in my reply to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.

Air TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario


Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable for his question and for the opportunity to discuss this subject.

We have not put forward a proposal on the matter of airport asset recycling. However, the member will recall that in November 2016, the minister presented his transportation 2030 strategy, a plan for the future of transportation in Canada for a safer, more secure, greener, more innovative and integrated transportation system that will support trade and economic growth, a cleaner environment, and the well-being of Canada's middle class. The traveller is the core theme of that vision.

Transportation 2030 also includes the ability for Canadian air carriers to have greater access to international investment, allowing for current air carriers to be more competitive, but as importantly, opening the way for new ultra low-cost carriers to develop in Canada. These ultra low-cost carriers have the potential to provide more choices at lower prices for Canadians and can increase the competition among air carriers in Canada.

To demonstrate our commitment to this, in December 2016 the minister issued exemptions to two companies, Enerjet and Canada Jetlines, to support their efforts to develop ultra-low-cost carriers in Canada while we pursue the necessary legislative amendments. Again, Canadians should benefit with more routes, more options, and lower prices.

Canadians want a strong, integrated, and modern transportation system. That is essential to the continuity of economic growth and competitiveness. Our government will support increased service offerings, better service, lower costs, and new rights for passengers in Canada's middle class.

Our government is committed to getting Canadian products to global markets. We recognize that Canada is a trading nation and being competitive on a global scale requires world-class infrastructure. Our government is moving ahead with making smart investments that will grow our economy.

We will make strategic investments in transportation projects that build stronger, more effective transportation corridors to international markets and that help Canadian companies grow and create more jobs for middle-class Canadians.

I am certain the member would be happy to know that others agree with our approach. The president of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities had this to say about budget 2017:

We welcome the focus this government has placed on our marine ports and national trade corridors and the recognition the critical role these assets play in our global economic competitiveness.

I hope that the member is reassured that all decisions we take moving forward will continue to be in the best interests of Canadian travellers and Canadian gateways.

Air TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear any reference to the privatization of airports, but I would like to remind the parliamentary secretary of what the Minister of Transport's press secretary said on April 20. It comes from an article written by Bloomberg. She said:

The federal government continues to study the issue and no decision has been made on whether to proceed on the privatization.

It is still up in the air.

I would like to read a quote from an article in the May 8, 2017, edition of Acadie nouvelle. In it, Liberal senator Dennis Dawson is quoted as saying:

Many of these decisions or directions are motivated by the greed of the Finance Department and Finance ministers, eager to do anything that could help the government generate short-term revenue increases...

Another quote comes from Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association. He said:

Let me be completely unambiguous. Canada will regret it if the crown jewels are sold...

The parliamentary secretary has two minutes left to answer this question: does the government, the Department of Transport, intend to sell our airports, the crown jewels? If so, is it to pay the interest on the huge debt the government is in the process of saddling our children with or is it simply a matter of ideology?

Air TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that the Minister of Transport is committed to building a modern and efficient transportation system for the future, a system that will work effectively to grow Canada's economy and to support middle-class Canadians. A key element of this vision, transportation 2030, is the traveller. The minister wants Canadian travellers to have more competition, lower costs, enhanced passenger rights, and greater connectivity.

Canadians want a strong, integrated, and modern transportation system. That is essential to the continuity of our economic growth and competitiveness.

Air TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:48 p.m.)