Madam Speaker, as this is my first opportunity to rise in this House, I just wanted to express my deepest sympathies and condolences for the Humboldt Broncos. This has been an incredibly impactful disaster in our country, and people are feeling it.
I also want to take an opportunity to thank Port McNeill, the Port McNeill IGA, and the Port McNeill Minor Hockey Association, which fundraised $6,000 to donate. I really appreciate, across the riding, how this has brought people together, when we think about those small communities where sports play such a fundamental role.
I also want to take this opportunity to express my deep condolences to a former member of this House, John Duncan, who used to represent a large of my part riding, who recently lost his wife, Donna Richardson Duncan. We may not have always seen eye to eye in terms of policy, but I deeply respect the hard work that every member does in this House. I know that John Duncan is well respected on the north island. I just wanted to share my deepest condolences with him and his loved ones.
Today I am here to talk about Bill C-74, which is implementation legislation for the budget. It is a little hard for me to speak here, because I feel that it is a bit of a timid budget. When I look at the riding of North Island—Powell River, and I look at the fundamental needs there that I work really hard with my staff every day to address, I wish we could see more action coming out of this. One thing I have heard from many of my constituents is that the time for studying is over; the time for action is now.
We are talking about a bill today that contains 556 pages and amends 44 separate acts. It is another omnibus bill. This always concerns me, because I think debate is a fundamentally important part of what we do here. It is also about transparency for Canadians. This bill also has a new bill inside it on carbon pricing. This should be a stand-alone bill so that we can meaningfully debate this.
There are a few positives. I really appreciate the fact that a promise that was made and betrayed is now actually coming to fruition, which is a reduction in the small business tax rate. Small businesses have had a hard time in the last several months as the government has looked at them in a way that was not friendly. I know that it my riding, I have been talking to health care professionals, doctors specifically, who were appalled by the process that happened. They felt very offended and actually dealt with patients being angry with them because of some of the things that came out of this. They asked me to let the Prime Minister know that there are not a lot of rich doctors, just a lot of hard-working doctors, in our rural communities.
I am happy to see that there are some additions for judges to address significant shortages. I also appreciate improving access to the Canada workers benefit.
I want to come back briefly to carbon pricing. We really need to have this separated out. It deserves a robust debate. This is an issue that is becoming more and more important across the country, as people are concerned about emissions and whether we are tackling them in a meaningful way. As a member from British Columbia, and with what we are seeing with Kinder Morgan, this is something that has not been addressed. People need to understand and have a fruitful discussion.
We know that polling has said that a lot of Canadians are very unsure that this will actually reduce emissions. People want to see an impact. It would be great if the government would take this step so that it could go to committee and we could have a report that goes back to parliamentarians and back to Canadians. We want to make sure that what is happening is actually working.
The other thing I found very disappointing is that we are not seeing what we need to see, which is a more fair tax regime. The government has again not addressed the significant loopholes for wealthy CEOs and the very wealthy. Oxfam has just reported this year that about 82% of the wealth accumulated last year went to the top 1% of earners across Canada. I do not represent a lot of those people in my riding. I represent a lot of hard-working people.
We just had a senior come into our office the other day who is now having to pay back CRA, because his wife had to go into a care facility. They did all the appropriate paperwork for CRA. They talked about the forced separation. They were given a little support and relief because of that. Now CRA is saying that they have to pay it back. That is not a fair tax system. The most vulnerable people are being asked to pay back what little support they desperately needed during a very hard time in their lives.
Another issue is pharmacare. Across my riding, the issue of medication and the cost of medication comes up repeatedly. The Parliamentary Budget Officer was very clear about there being over $4 billion in savings to Canadians if we could address this issue. In my riding, we have too many people who are having to make significantly hard choices about what they can cost out. It is important to recognize that when people cannot afford to take the medication they need, the expense to the taxpayer increases, because those people go in and out of hospital. It is not good for their health, it is not good for their families, and it is not good for the taxpayer.
As I said earlier, many constituents in my riding are saying that the time for studies is over. The fact that the only investment we are seeing is another study on whether we need pharmacare is ridiculous. We just need to get to action. We now have a report from the health committee that has been very clear. All parties know that this needs to happen. We do not need to study. We have studied this repeatedly. This is a long-term promise the Liberal Party has made over many years. Let us get to the action part.
I represent rural communities, and I am very proud to do so. One of the things I find disheartening about this budget is that it is not addressing a lot of the fundamental issues rural communities have. Resource industries have built a large part of the wealth of this country, and many of those communities are like those I represent: they are small, rural, and hard-working. The resource sector has a history and a present, but it also has a future. We are not seeing the investment in innovation and diversification in smaller and rural communities. We do not want to leave our small communities. We want to make sure that they are robust. We want to make sure that they are healthy, and we sometimes need the government to give them opportunities for that to happen. I will be attending, for example, the Forestry Friendly Communities celebration in Port McNeill in May, where we are going to be talking about the innovation happening in that sector. We need to see that the government actually cares about these communities.
I have the great joy of representing the 19 Wing base in Comox in my riding. One of the sad and wonderful things about representing this area is that we have a lot of veterans who move to our community. I am happy to have them there. They provide a lot of support to our community, and I respect the work they do. However, one of the sad parts is that we often have veterans who have multiple challenges. A few weeks ago, we had the Wounded Warrior Run BC running through our communities. It was amazing to see the support. One of the most important things they were doing was fundraising so that more veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder and need support get service dogs. It is a step in the right direction that we now see in this budget a tax credit to help with those service dogs. I want to be very clear that this is an expensive investment.
Another issue for veterans in my riding is access to housing, especially if they have service dogs. Sometimes it can be very challenging for veterans to find homes that will allow them to bring a service dog with them. It is heartbreaking for me that there are a few steps in the right direction, but they are too little and too slow. Veterans have waited a long time for some support, and we definitely want to see that happen for them.
Housing is a big issue in our riding. There are communities as small as, for example, Port Hardy, with 4,000 people, that are struggling to find housing for people. They do not have a lot of affordable housing. This is not just an urban issue. It is an issue across the whole country. I encourage the government to step forward. The Liberals have made announcements about funding. The majority of it is not coming to fruition. I encourage the government to please make that money flow faster. People need homes, and they need them now.