Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
The bill has made it to report stage. This is a mammoth bill that is more than 851 pages long. It is truly a massive omnibus bill.
If we combine this bill with the 2008 budget, that makes more than 1,400 pages of legislative changes that all members of the House have to study.
We have said many times that bills like Bill C-86 should be split so that all members of the House have enough time to debate and study them. When bills are this big, it is easy to hide things in them.
In 2015, the Liberals promised to do things differently. When the Conservatives were in power, they had a habit of introducing mammoth omnibus bills. During the election campaign, the Liberals said they would be different and everyone could trust them. However, right after they were elected, back in 2015, they started introducing omnibus bills.
When a government drafts a budget, it makes choices and sets priorities. We are really very disappointed with Bill C-86. More and more, people are hoping the government will enact measures to change their lives for the better. As the NDP sees it, the Liberals have missed that opportunity.
As everyone knows, Canada is a rich country. The gap between Canada's richest people and the rest of the population has never been wider. We believe that that is utterly unacceptable in 2018. Two Canadian billionaires own as much as 11 million Canadians.
Oxfam released a report revealing that the eight richest men own the same wealth as half of humanity.
About 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, live in homes that struggle to put food on the table. Last week, following our weekly caucus meeting, I was able to go back to my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé to attend a Noël du pauvre fundraising dinner in Yamachiche. Volunteers work throughout the year to raise money so that families and children get Christmas hampers.
I would like to recognize the work of organizing committee chair Pierrette Plante and honorary chair Father Julio César Duran. A total of 550 people attended this dinner, which raised nearly $16,000 to help local residents in need.
We are pleased to see that Bill C-86 contains poverty reduction targets. Unfortunately, those targets are not accompanied by appropriate measures or funding so that they can be met.
The Liberals have ideas and targets, but they are not making any new investments to meet those targets. There is a poverty crisis in Canada. People are living in hardship and misery. There are still people struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month.
The important thing in this bill is pay equity. Women have been waiting for pay equity for over 42 years. It is a promise that was made by the Liberals. However, once again, we are waiting. The Liberals like to consult, but what it really boils down to is that they are buying time. They are still consulting about pay equity, when we really need it today.
Another thing we were hoping to find in the bill was a federal measure to tax web giants, but the bill contains no such measure. We are also calling on the government to put an end to pension theft and to give Canada a national child care strategy.
I had my son when I was a teenager, and at the time, it cost me $55 a day to send him to daycare. I had to take out additional loans so I could continue my studies and send my son to daycare. We need a Canada-wide child care system to help families, especially single parents.
Furthermore, we want stronger action to address tax havens, and we also want EI sickness benefits to be extended from 15 weeks to 50. There is a good public awareness campaign on that topic. I will come back to that. We also want a universal pharmacare system.
In addition, we want the needs of indigenous communities to be met, particularly with regard to access to safe drinking water and funding for educational institutions in their communities, which receive less funding than other institutions in the country. Lastly, we want assistance for rural regions.
Regarding the duration of EI sickness benefits, which we want to be extended from 15 weeks to 50, it is important to highlight the work of Marie-Hélène Dubé, who launched a petition called “15 weeks to heal is not enough!”. Half a million Canadians signed that petition calling on the federal government to take action, but we have heard nothing but radio silence so far in response. It is very frustrating.
In 2016, the Prime Minister himself and the Minister of Social Development promised to take action and extend the benefit period. In 2014, the Prime Minister even voted in favour of Bill C-291, which would have extended EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50.
The government needs to walk the talk. Sick people need time to take care of themselves. They do not have time to fight. That is why we continue to pressure the federal government to extend EI sickness benefits.
I represent the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, which includes the RCMs of Maskinongé and Berthier, as well as three municipalities in the RCM of Matawinie. I travel quite a bit across my riding, and people stop me to talk about the importance of having a national connectivity strategy, which is something we do not currently have at the federal level.
Access to high-speed broadband Internet is vital to strengthening Canada's social and economic fabric. Some businesses really struggle with connectivity issues. I know a business owner in Maskinongé who pays two ISPs and never knows which of the two will work when he needs it. When one does not work, he tries the other.
We have long called for a national connectivity strategy. Although the government offers programs and money from time to time, this is not enough. We need a Canada-wide strategy to connect Canada and Quebec to the Internet.
I should point out that a cell network strategy is needed as well. In my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, people from Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc to Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé tell me how important cell coverage is. The mayor of Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, Réal Normandin, has spoken to me about this, because people in his village have a hard time getting cell reception. The community of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, the hometown of Fred Pellerin, is in the same boat.
At a coffee meeting last week in Lavaltrie, Sylvie Legault and Gilles Auclair collected signatures for a petition about the 34 homes on the Point-du-Jour concession that have no Internet access and limited cell network access. Lavaltrie is not far from Montreal. These people are calling for a national Internet access and cell network strategy.
We had hoped to find all kinds of good things in Bill C-89, but the NDP will have to oppose this bill, since it does not do enough to address pay equality. Women have been fighting for far too long for the right to equal pay for equal work.
This bill also does not do enough to help rural areas get access to the Internet and the cell network. We also need to improve the pharmacare system. In short, there are many reasons why we will be voting against Bill C-86.