House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was need.

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The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, and of the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.

It is a great honour and privilege for me to stand here and acknowledge that we are standing on unceded Algonquin territory.

I would also like to acknowledge the leader of the Progressive Conservatives. I would like to thank him for his service and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.

It is not easy to be a politician in this day and age when there is a hard split of opinions on the left and on the right. It would seem to the public that people here with differing opinions are constantly at each other's throats. However, today we are seeing what we can do when we come together to acknowledge the humanity in each other and see that we are not just spokespersons spouting out political ideology but in fact living, breathing human beings.

It is this spirit of reconciliation that I believe the throne speech embodies, and since the word “reconciliation” is used many times in it, as a new member of Parliament, I have to say that this is the spirit that I embrace and that I intend to continue to put forward in the days, months and hopefully years to come.

I am a proud Nova Scotian. My riding of Cumberland—Colchester is a beautiful region in northern Nova Scotia. It is bound by the sea on both sides, by the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Strait. One of the issues we have is climate change, which is very real for us. Many of us are on flood plains, including my home of Truro, Nova Scotia. We have already had one big flood, which occurred 10 or 11 years ago when I had just become a member of the legislative assembly of Nova Scotia. One of the first tests of my leadership was a huge flood. At the time, it showed me what could be to come if we are not careful.

The Chignecto Isthmus is a piece of land at the top of my riding, and it joins Nova Scotia to the mainland of Canada. Right now, the seas have risen so far that the only thing that is keeping the sea from crossing over that isthmus and turning us into an island is a railway. There are 400-year-old Acadian dikes there, an incredible engineering feat that has managed to keep out the seas for this long in Nova Scotia, but the dikes are aging, and we are going to have to raise them. We will also have to take other measures to protect Nova Scotia from the rising seas. This is why I am very pleased to see so many mentions of the environment in the throne speech, as well as the idea that climate change is a crisis and that we need to act now.

Therefore, when I hear opposition members say that climate change is not necessarily a priority, it gives me great concern, because in my riding it is a huge concern. The first nations people, the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, have been very active in combatting all kinds of environmental degradation in our province. I am very proud to have stood with them on the front lines, fighting for government recognition and fighting to get these issues noticed, especially when big corporations are polluting the lands right beside the first nations communities.

In fact, one of the bills I introduced in the legislature in Nova Scotia was called “An Act to Address Environmental Racism”. It acknowledged the disproportionate amount of toxic waste sites, landfills, dumps and huge corporate pollution on the lands of first nations and black communities. I would like environmental racism to be talked about more often, especially in the House, as we move forward.

It is with great honour that I was elected to the House. It is my first time in Ottawa. I would like to acknowledge the people back home in Cumberland—Colchester who helped me get here. I will not let them down. I will fight for everything I believe in: human rights and justice for women and girls and dealing with human trafficking and domestic violence.

On domestic violence and gun control, I noted that at least 118 women and girls have been murdered across our country so far this year, according to the annual report from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. More often than not, that is a result of domestic violence, and shooting was the most common method of killing. This report comes on the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre at the university in Montreal. That shooting, which left 14 innocent young women dead, thrust the term “misogyny” into the public discourse in Canada. It still continues today, and it is a problem. Missing and murdered indigenous women are still a huge issue that we need to address on all sides of this House and in all provinces across this nation.

I would like to reiterate, in the spirit of reconciliation, that no matter which province we come from in Canada, we are still all Canadians and we still bleed red blood. We want our children and grandchildren to be looked after, have food on the table, have good education and schools, go to school in peace and not be afraid of violence. We want them to have affordable housing, which is also an issue in my area. We need to deal with poverty, including in the middle class, to help people struggling to become part of the middle class. We need to not forget them. As somebody who cares deeply about social, environmental and economic justice, as well as justice for arts and culture and for realizing how important they are to the fabric of our society, I intend to stand in the House as much as I can to remind us all of the importance of these values and doing everything we can to help every single person in Canada, not just a few.

In Cumberland—Colchester, there are a lot of farms and small businesses, and a lot of women have taken on small businesses. I have to say that it gives me great pride to walk down the streets of Truro, pop into a store and see a female entrepreneur who has been there for 35 years, as in the case of one of my friends. She has a dress store called “Moments”. She dressed me today and other days, and she was very excited about that. There are also many little restaurants.

I am thrilled and excited to help put Cumberland—Colchester on the map and bring more tourists to my beautiful region. There is great wine in Jost, which has many types of incredible wines, including a new red wine called “Great Big Friggin' Red”. For anybody who likes barbecues, spaghetti or steak, it goes with them.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my friend across the way for being alive to the impacts of environmental racism. Having an equity and diversity lens throughout all of our decision-making is very important.

We have heard the government talk repeatedly about guns and gangs. What kind of analysis will the member bring to the root causes of violence in our communities as it relates to indigenous people and persons of colour across the country?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, some people say we need more boots on the streets in order to deal with violence and gang violence, but I believe that the root causes of violence are poverty, desperation, lack of education, lack of a sense of hope, mental illness and addiction.

In my community, many people can get in trouble with the law because they have an affliction like alcoholism or addiction. I am an alcoholic, a proud sober alcoholic who has been sober for 24 years. It is not a disease I would wish on anybody. Because I have lived experience and hit bottom at the age of 36, I know how hard it is to live with, for the families and loved ones as well. They say it is a family disease because it affects everybody.

Therefore, I believe that we need to put more money into addictions research and helping people on the ground. In Nova Scotia, the wait time for people to see an addictions counsellor is atrocious. Sometimes it is 365 days or 125 days.

I was glad to see that our government put money into mental health in Nova Scotia to the tune of about $138 million each year for the next five years. I am pleased about that because we need as much help as we can get.

Sadly, in Millbrook First Nation there have been a few suicides. One blossoming young man was a mixed martial artist, a firefighter and well loved, but he was suffering from depression and anxiety. He went to the hospital and was given some pills. He went home, took the pills and then hung himself. This is a really sad state of affairs. This did not have to happen.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I was captivated by a lot of things the member said in her speech. I want to make it clear, though, that not all opposition members feel the same way about caring about the environment. New Democrats care desperately about the environment and have a sense of urgency around this issue. I also appreciate that the member brought up environmental racism. This is an issue we all need to address more fully in our country.

If we are going to see action, I believe we need accountability measures. One thing missing from the throne speech was a way to measure success when we address the climate crisis we are in right now. It would have been reassuring to all Canadians.

Could the member share with the House what steps she could take to help the government take that next step?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I meant the official opposition. I acknowledge that members of the Green Party and the NDP have been very vocal and passionate about the environment as well. I thank them for that.

This government has set milestones. Every five years it has a milestone to get to zero emissions by 2050. That is a clear sign that we have certain limits to reach as we go along.

I also think the price on pollution is important. I have heard people say we need to get rid of the carbon tax. We do not have it yet in Nova Scotia, but when I was with the NDP government in Nova Scotia, we set very strong targets and goals, which we reached. We were able to do a transaction with the Government of Canada and—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

My apologies, but we have to resume debate.

The hon. member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, the people of the south shore of Montreal are probably watching today and getting a kick out of the fact that my neighbour is sitting in the Speaker's seat. I am so proud to be your neighbour.

First, I would like to thank the people of Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, who on October 21 sent me back here with a larger level of support. I also want to thank my beloved family, who have put up with this crazy job for the last four and a half years. Of course, I would also like to thank my friends in Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne and Brossard—St-Lambert who have stood by me.

Over the last four years, we have heard a lot from folks about doing things differently. Yesterday my friend and colleague from Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston gave a beautiful speech on our friend Deepak, whom we lost this year. He reminded me of something. He reminded me that we are supposed to be here talking from the heart and representing the people who sent us here, so this is the first time in the House that I will be speaking without a speech. I am going to try to emulate my colleague across the way, so please bear with me if I muff this up.

I am happy to speak on the Speech from the Throne. In it, we said we are going to do things differently. Canadians asked us very clearly on October 21 to work together in a collaborative way. I hope that my colleagues across the way will agree with me that this has always been the way I have worked.

A lot has changed for me in the past year. As many members know, my mother passed away right before Christmas last year, unexpectedly. This happened at the same time that our older son was deployed overseas for his first deployment. Since then, I have been taking care of my dad and my family while being a parliamentarian. What I have learned over the past year is we have had a lot of ups and downs. As I said, my mom passed, but we have also had some great news in the family. Our older son came back from his first deployment and got married, and our military family grew. We also went into an election and I am happy to say I am back.

I want to do things differently. I want to continue to work across the aisle with my colleagues. I have had great conversations, especially with the member for Durham, regarding how we can support the brave men and women in uniform and the families who serve them.

I had the pleasure of working with the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, and I am sorry I am pointing him out. We worked on a committee for electoral reform, a special committee that was set up in June 2016. The great thing about that committee was that the Liberals did not have a majority. I had the great pleasure of experiencing what it is like to work in a minority government. I want to thank my colleagues who were on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform with me, because we got to become friends and got to work together. It was a very good example of how we can work together.

In the Speech from the Throne we talk about the importance of affordable housing.

In my riding, Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, nearly 3,000 people are on the wait list for affordable housing. I have been working with my provincial and municipal counterparts to address this issue.

My father is on that list, as are many people in my riding.

Nearly 4,000 seniors in my riding receive the guaranteed income supplement.

I know that increasing the personal exemption to $15,000 will help a lot of our seniors as well.

Now let us talk about public transit. As people know, Taschereau Boulevard is hell during rush hour. We need a streetcar on Taschereau Boulevard. The mayor of Longueuil has clearly stated that she needs our support. That is why I am very proud to lend my support to that project, and I hope we can all work together to see it come to fruition.

We have talked a lot about the environment, and our government has made incredible strides in the last four years with respect to the environment and climate change. There is still so much to do. Quebec has had the largest pickup in electric vehicles purchases since our incentive came into place on May 1. The provincial incentive and federal incentive combined, there is up to $13,000 in rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles. I know people in my riding are very excited about that.

With all of the actions we have taken on climate change, there is one thing I have learned from listening to my friends across the way, especially those from Alberta. Over the past week and a half I have listened to the debate on the challenges they are facing and I want them to know that I am listening and that I hear them and want to hear more. I think we can absolutely find a balance between protecting the environment and helping those who work in the resource sector.

Most people in this place know the reason I decided to run in 2015: I have two children serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. In 2015 I was quite worried, not about their being in the Canadian Armed Forces but what would happen if, God forbid, they became ill or were injured in the line of duty. I was quite concerned about how we treat our veterans. As most people know, parents can either complain about something or do something about it. As a parent I decided to do something about it, and I ran for office and won.

What I have heard over the past four years, in my capacity as a member of Parliament and as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, are the challenges of transitioning faced by many veterans and their families.

In our Speech from the Throne we also talked about how important it is that every Canadian has a family doctor.

I know that health care delivery is a provincial jurisdiction, and I fully support that. However, there is room for a federal contribution.

Often when members of the Canadian Armed Forces leave, they are left on their own to find a family doctor. If they are ill and injured, the difficulty is that to get the services and care they need, they must have a diagnosis. They therefore need a family doctor.

I am excited to be working with our new health minister because I know she feels as strongly as I do about working in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners to make sure that veterans and their families have access to a medical doctor.

We also addressed the homelessness of veterans. I had the great pleasure of meeting two phenomenal people from Nova Scotia, Jim and Debbie Lowther, who run VETS Canada. They work tirelessly on the ground to help veterans in need. We need to continue to support organizations like VETS Canada and others to make sure that we end veteran homelessness.

As folks who were with me in the last Parliament can attest, I have said many times in the House that we really need to work together. Our common cause is the people we represent, and I am always willing to work with anyone who wants to sit down and have a constructive conversation about how we can move things forward.

I am so pleased to be part of the 43rd Parliament. I think that, together, we can do what Canadians have asked us to do.

They asked us very clearly on October 21 to work together, and it is with that in mind that I offer my help on any file we can move forward together.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

December 12th, 2019 / 12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her kind comments and congratulate her on her re-election.

This is more of a comment than a question. She pointed, quite rightly, to the fact that a small number of us in the House, most of whom re-offered for re-election or are back, were involved in the electoral reform committee, where we functioned in a situation where the government did not have a majority. That is now how all committees are going to function.

There is another parallel there as well. The government really needed the support of one party, any of the parties would work, in order to get a functioning majority. That will prevail in every committee in this House.

Therefore, I want to say, not as much for the benefit of the hon. member as for her party's House leader and whip, that it would make sense to draw upon that expertise and spread it around. That might be true for the other House leaders as well. However, that is the way we are going to function.

I have served now in three majority and four minority parliaments, if we include this one. There is a bit of a different dynamic. We would all benefit from reviewing what worked well in the last minority Parliament, before we start getting into catfights in committee, rather than after. That is just a thought.

I thank the member for what I thought was an excellent and heartfelt speech. I hope there are more heartfelt speeches from this member in the future.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, it is not really a question, but I want to again thank my colleague across the away for the generous time he has always offered me, with respect to his good guidance and knowledgeable background. I have to say that he is a wealth of knowledge.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, congratulations to you, as well as to the member on her re-election.

I thank the member for her touching speech and especially for highlighting her connectedness through her family to veterans' affairs.

I have a constituent in my community of Vancouver East who has been having difficulty accessing medical marijuana through the Veterans Affairs system. In fact, some veterans are having such grave difficulty that it is causing additional stress and distress in their lives.

I am wondering if this is something the member can work with me to help resolve, not only for my constituents but I suspect for many people across the country as well.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Vancouver East for the question. We have not had a chance to work together, but I am looking forward to doing so.

When I was the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, we heard a lot about the use of medical marijuana by veterans for their treatment. I would be happy to work with the member for Vancouver East with respect to access to that.

I know the parliamentary secretaries were announced today and there is a new Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who I am sure would be happy to also assist in this regard. I have a bit of a background in assisting veterans with access to services, and I would be happy to work with the member opposite.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, earlier today we had the wonderful announcement of the tabling of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement. This is good for Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be part of it.

I would ask the member for her overall thoughts and impressions with respect to how critically important this agreement is for our economy and our society.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Madam Speaker, during the campaign and over the last year and a half, the importance of the agreement with our largest trading partner, the United States, came up on the doorsteps of the folks in my riding.

This morning, the minister tabled that trade agreement, which has brought a lot of pride to Canada with respect to how we handled ourselves and what the return on the trade agreement will bring to our nations.

I know that folks in my riding were concerned about tariffs, culture and the protection of our industry in Quebec. I am happy to say this will be a very good trade agreement for Canada and I am proud to support it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Hamilton Centre.

I wanted to once again thank the constituents of London—Fanshawe for electing me to the House. I have worked here for more than a decade, actually in a different capacity, as a parliamentary staffer for many amazing NDP members of Parliament: Chris Charlton from Hamilton—Mountain, Wayne Marston from Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, Jean Crowder from Nanaimo—Cowichan and most recently, the former MP for Essex, Tracey Ramsey. I was also raised by another incredible and powerful woman, who represented London—Fanshawe for the past 13 years: my mother, Irene Mathyssen.

I come to this House with many mentors and supporters, and I stand here because of them. It is when I consider important votes, like on this throne speech, that I will always think of the people who elected me here.

I hear every day from people in my riding who need help now. If this is all that the Liberals are willing to offer to help Canadians, it is not good enough. I represent a riding where many people are struggling. The average household income in my constituency is well below the national and Ontario averages.

I see it every day. People are working harder than ever to keep a roof over their head and to put food on the table. I also see a community that is consistently coming together to support one another, to answer calls for help and to push for more. They deserve better than this throne speech.

For more than a decade when someone needed help in London—Fanshawe they knew that they could turn to their member of Parliament. Irene's office was a place that would consistently go above and beyond to advocate and push for anyone who walked through the doors. I will proudly continue that tradition.

While my constituency office will work hard to help, I know that more and more people are seeking that help. The policies of past Liberal and Conservative governments are failing them. In the House, in this 43rd Parliament, we have an opportunity to change the direction of the country, one that should put less focus and attention on how well the rich and powerful of this country are doing and more on how everyday Canadians are doing.

One disturbing trend we have seen is that people are continuing to come to the office in search of affordable housing. Housing prices continue to skyrocket in London as many people are being pushed out by other markets around the GTA. What once was a starter home found throughout London—Fanshawe has become out of reach for too many families. Instead of more empty words, the Liberals could have worked with us to invest in affordable housing so that everybody in Canada could have a place to call home.

Canada is in the midst of a national housing crisis impacting every area of the country. Average rents rose in every single province last year, and today 1.7 million Canadian households spend more than 30% of their income on housing. A major part of the long-term solution to the problem is to ensure that more affordable rental units are built across the country.

One in three Canadians is a renter. In many cities, the few affordable apartments available get snapped up quickly, and people end up either living in inadequate housing or forced to spend a huge chunk of their income on rent. If the Liberals are willing to work with us to address the housing crisis in our country, we are ready to deliver for Canadians.

Another trend I have heard too many stories about is how people cannot afford their medications. One gentleman came into my office during the campaign who had suffered from a workplace accident. He told my team and me how he had been injured at work. He was going to physiotherapy and attempting to heal and get better.

Although he is not well enough to return to work, he knows his benefits are running out. He needs his medication. He cannot live without it, but he also knows he cannot afford it on his own. He told us that he is being forced back to work, even though he is not ready, knowing he is putting his own life in danger.

Imagine if we had a system that rather than worrying about how this person is going to survive, to pay for the medicine that he needs to live, he could focus on getting better and returning to work when he is able.

In the days before medicare, New Democrats saw their neighbours suffer because they could not afford the health care they needed. We saw people lose their homes, their farms and their businesses as they struggled to pay their medical bills. We saw illness destroy entire families.

In response to that reality, New Democrats led the fight to establish universal public health care for all Canadians. Medicare changed the lives of millions of people and it is one of our party's proudest achievements.

Millions of families cannot afford to take the medications they need because they have no employer-provided drug coverage. The number of uninsured people forced to skip their medications is growing as more people work on contract, are self-employed or have jobs that just do not come with health benefits. Too many seniors are putting their health at risk because they do not have drug coverage and cannot afford out-of-pocket payments.

The stress and worry that people feel is not an accident. It is the direct result of deliberate choices that have been made by Liberal and Conservative governments. They choose to let drug companies gouge patients and they choose to leave millions of people uninsured or under-insured, paying hundreds or thousands of dollars out of pocket for the medicine that they need.

Today, Canada is the only wealthy country in the world with a universal health care system that lacks universal prescription-insurance coverage. We pay the third-highest prices for prescription drugs in the world and must deal with a patchwork of programs and coverage, if we are lucky enough to have coverage at all.

When I look at this throne speech, I see there is no language about any pharmacare being universal, comprehensive or public. There is no funding amount and no timeline. Since the Liberals have been promising pharmacare since 1997, we can see why New Democrats are a bit skeptical. We need to see a real commitment to deliver universal, public, single-payer pharmacare.

We are ready to work with the Liberals and deliver for Canadians, but it takes concrete measures to help improve lives.

There is a growing urgency to also address the climate crisis. I was proud to join hundreds of people from across London at the climate strike in September. I joined them because we need action now and we need bold targets.

The real plan to address climate change is needed now. That is why this throne speech is so disappointing. There is nothing on stronger emissions targets for 2030 and nothing to confront the urgency of the problem. In the last four years, the Liberals gave billions of dollars in subsidies to fossil-fuel companies instead of investing in renewable energy and job creation. After being lobbied more than 1,500 times by the fossil-fuel industry, the Liberals are putting big oil first.

We also need action to protect our fresh water. With growing algae blooms and invasive species decreasing lake levels, as well as flood damage, we are in need of a national freshwater strategy. A strategy that would set national drinking-water standards would solve the problems presented by piecemeal provincial strategies and years-long boil-water advisories on first nations reserves.

I have been meeting with members from Oneida Nation of the Thames, just outside of London. There, the drinking water has failed to meet provincial standards dating back to 2006. Upstream, London dumps millions of litres of raw sewage into the Thames River that serves as the community's water source. This is unacceptable. Our municipal government recognizes the problem. It wants to help, but there is no action from the government to help address the water situation at Oneida.

After claiming its most important relationship is with indigenous people, the Liberal government continues to break its promise. It refuses to commit to dropping the appeal against fairness for indigenous kids, while also refusing to fix the problem with the child welfare system. It is simply unacceptable.

The throne speech offers nothing for our seniors, either. Everyone deserves to be able to age with dignity as a valued member of the community. The Liberal government refused to protect workers' pensions, while dragging its feet on the creation of a real plan to deal with the health challenges faced by seniors.

As more Canadians enter their senior years, we need to make better choices and we need to be ready to meet their needs to ensure everyone can age with dignity. With the right leadership, we can make sure our institutions and public services are strong and prepared, and that all seniors have access to the health and social supports they need to make life easier.

One group my mother, in her capacity as a member of Parliament, was so proud of and honoured to work with was our veterans. It is time for the government to do right by our veterans. They should not have to wait weeks or even months to receive the services they need.

Unfortunately, for too long veterans have had to fight for the benefits they have earned. Veterans need investments into their services and increased access to caseworkers. There is also much more that we can do to ease the transition from their life in active service to becoming a veteran.

While I have so much more that I could talk about, I want to finish with this. As it stands, there is not enough in the throne speech for Canadians. People need help now. We urge the Liberals to offer more than just pretty words and to put forward concrete solutions that start to deal with the systemic poverty and inequality that too many face.

The Liberals have been putting the demands of the wealthiest and the rich corporations ahead of the needs of Canadians for too long. We are ready to work with them and deliver for Canadians, but it takes courage to make the necessary choices that will truly help improve their lives.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, congratulations on your affirmation to this position by the House.

I want to congratulate my colleague on her first intervention in the House and her speech on the throne speech.

I know that the member spent a good deal of time talking about pharmacare specifically and the fact that perhaps that was something that was lacking in the throne speech. I would refer her to the throne speech where it specifically says:

Too often, Canadians who fall sick suffer twice: once from becoming ill, and again from financial hardship caused by the cost of their medications.

Given this reality, pharmacare is the key missing piece of universal health care in this country. The Government will take steps to introduce and implement national pharmacare so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need.

I agree with the member that the NDP, under the leadership of Tommy Douglas, played a huge role in seeing medicare come into this country, and the New Democrats have the opportunity to play a huge role to see pharmacare become a reality, particularly in another minority government just like the minority government back then.

Can the member not at least accept the fact that there is a will within the throne speech to specifically tackle the issue of pharmacare?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I would be very excited if the Liberal government wanted to move forward with a universal single-payer pharmacare program. New Democrats will absolutely want to work with the Liberals to ensure that happens. The problem is that we have been waiting since 1997. Canadians have been waiting on Liberal promises since 1997.

I can assure my hon. colleague that in this minority government, as in many other Liberal-led minority governments, New Democrats will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the people of Canada have those programs that they desperately need.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on being elected to the House of Commons. I also thank her predecessor, Irene Mathyssen, for the incredible work she did in her many years here as well.

The member mentioned many things in her speech. As a strong advocate for women's rights, on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, I would like to see the government take real action, first to commit to implementing all the calls for justice and to ensure there is accountability with action and a timeline and resources allocated to it.

I wonder if the member could comment on that.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, my mother, Irene, has been an advocate for women over her entire career and not just in this place. It is something that I am fiercely proud of.

Absolutely, the government needs to take action on those calls for justice. I mentioned that I worked with the former member for Nanaimo—Cowichan who served our party as the critic for indigenous affairs. This was something that was continually brought up.

With the suffering these families went through time and again telling those stories, having to relive them, but seeing no action from the government, it is time to put in solid timelines. It is time to put forward all of those calls for justice. We need to act now. There is absolutely no excuse. Again, the government has committed to putting that nation-to-nation relationship first and foremost and we call on the government to do just that.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you as well.

I thank the hon. member for joining us in this House.

In the throne speech, there is an entire section on strengthening the middle class where we address poverty and the progress we have made. We are two years ahead of the mandate already in reducing chronic homelessness in Guelph by 23% just last year.

Could the hon. member at least acknowledge that there has been some solid work going on and that, together with the NDP, we will be able to do some solid work in the year ahead?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I look forward to working with the government for some substantial housing initiatives. Unfortunately, we have not really seen that much.

In my own riding, it was actually community groups that led the charge, and they had to do all the work. The federal government came in with a small amount afterwards, when all of that work had already been done by the municipality and some of the provincial government advocates.

I think there is an expanded role. It is a shame that the government cancelled the national housing strategy in 1993. It was something that New Democrats certainly had been fighting to get back. However, if we could get back to a place where the federal government is actually building those affordable units, the 500,000 units that New Democrats have called for, I would be happy to work with it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise in humility, humbled by the confidence my constituents and neighbours placed in me to be here today to carry on the working-class values of Hamilton Centre that were brought to this House by my predecessor, the always honourable Mr. David Christopherson. He exemplified the nobility of public service, which I hope to emulate and pursue in my work in this House.

I rise in gratitude to the dozens of grassroots volunteers who organized hundreds of door knockings, went door to door, street to street and neighbourhood to neighbourhood talking to my neighbours in Hamilton Centre. Without them I would not have the privilege to serve in this duty, and for that I am forever grateful.

I rise to share the sentiments of the leaders we heard here today talk about the importance of being a parent in this House. I rise to give thanks and gratitude to my incredible spouse, who has been there from day one to support me. I thank all the spouses of members of this House, who sacrifice and bear the brunt at home so we can be here.

I rise for my son, who is three years old and is excited to see daddy's new place of work. The most sacred time in my day starts around seven o'clock when I put my son down to sleep. I read him bedtime stories that try to imbue him with the characteristics for the person I want to see him grow up to be and teach him the values I want to see him grow up with.

My son's name is Langston. In his namesake, I am reminded of the poem Dream Deferred. In the words of the throne speech, we have heard the aspirations expressed to the government. We have heard them before, as we did in 2015. The question is whether this is also going to be a dream deferred.

We have heard today many people talk about the divisive nature of our society right now. Some would try to frame it as it being about east versus west. I would agree there is division in this country, but it is not a geographic division. It is between the ultra-wealthy and the working class.

I rise as a former city councillor, a very proud city councillor in Hamilton. I represented Ward 3. I would often say that my ward is to Hamilton what Hamilton is to the rest of the country. When times were good, our steel sector literally built this country. The working-class people had enough to provide for their families. They had benefits and pensions that they could rely on. However, through some of our free trade deals, we saw these jobs shipped overseas to districts that had lax environmental regulations and lower wages.

We have seen a bit of a resurgence in our city. We have also recently seen the erosion of our manufacturing sector with the loss of a company like Hamilton Specialty Bar, which was bankrupted by Bain Capital. Generations of workers are left without the opportunity to provide their families with good benefits and pensions. I stand here for those workers.

I stand here today for the water protectors in our city. They are protecting and holding accountable the degradation of our Hamilton harbour through a recent spill that happened.

I stand here today for the youth, for Fridays for Future and the students who campaign on the urgency of climate change. These youth will not accept words. These youth want action now.

I stand here today for organizations like the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, an organization I am very proud to represent. It stands on the front lines against the rise of growing white supremacy and far-right organizing in our city. I am here for the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, which is fighting for the most vulnerable in this country. I am here for groups like SACHA, the sexual assault centre, which is fighting for women.

I have heard the conciliatory comments across the way about collaboration. I would put it to the Liberals that if we want to close that division, that profound inequality that we see in this country, we only have to look to the wealthiest 87 families who, from 2012 to 2016, amassed $800 million in wealth. Those families have more wealth than the 12 million lowest-earning Canadians. We have to fight back against the commodification of our housing markets, the commodification and financialization of every aspect of our lives.

It is in the spirit of co-operation and conciliation with my friends across the way that I would like to move a subamendment to the throne speech. I move:

That the amendment be amended by:

(a) replacing the words “tax relief for Canadians with a path to a balanced budget”, with the words “making Canada's millionaires, billionaires, and biggest corporations pay their fair share, ensuring that we can fund critical services and make needed investments for the long term”;

(b) adding, after the word “potential”, the words “including building half a million affordable homes and expanding healthcare to include a universal public pharmacare program and a national dental care program”;

(c) adding, after the words “climate change”, the words “with a bold plan including stronger targets and eliminating subsidies to big polluters who are already profitable, (v) addressing the rising cost of living by taking on the big telecom companies to bring down the high cost of phone and internet services that families and small businesses need”;

(d) replacing the words “regimes in Moscow and Beijing, and protecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic”, with the words “climate crisis and the rise of the far-right extremist leaders”;

(e) replacing the words “with traditional allies such as NATO, Ukraine and Israel”, with the words “for multilateralism, peace and justice”;

(f) replacing the words “strengthening the relationship with our largest trading partners”, with the words “ensuring that any future trade deal is fair for workers, people and our environment”;

(g) deleting all of the words after the words “unity crisis, which requires” and substituting the following: “(i) taking immediate action to ensure Indigenous communities have clean drinking water, and access to healthcare and support; (ii) respecting provincial jurisdiction and supporting a strengthened Quebec within a united Canada; (iii) helping workers, particularly those in Western Canada, struggling to make ends meet within a rapidly changing global economy; (iv) restoring confidence in our national institutions, starting by bringing ethics and accountability to the federal government and making sure that the government listens to people and not just to the wealthy and the well-connected.”

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

The subamendment is in order.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to welcome the member. It is always good to see former city councillors on the floor of the House speaking to the issues that matter to municipalities. Housing was one of the issues that was referenced in the subamendment that was just tabled.

I have read the paragraph in the NDP platform on housing. As a former councillor, I was curious that it required a one-third, one-third matching funding, and that 500,000 homes were going to be built with no mention of how they would be financed. At an average cost of $360,000, that is a $180-billion program. If one-third has to come from municipalities, which is the NDP platform, where are the cities that have that $60 billion financial capacity and how those cities would come up with $60 billion? To put it in context, one-third of federal programs come to Ontario, so that means $60 billion alone for Ontario. For Toronto, that is a $30-billion program he is proposing. That would require the City of Toronto to come up with $10 billion, an extra $1 billion a year on top of the tax base in order to fulfill the NDP's pledge as mandated by its platform.

Does the member opposite think the City of Toronto has an extra billion dollars lying about? If it does, why is it not building housing now with it?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the former city councillor will know that under this current national housing strategy, the money does not really flow until 2024. Therefore, if Toronto had the capacity to build now, it would be building now.

However, the member is quite right. In our platform, it actually does not specify one-third, one-third, one-third. That is under the national housing strategy right now, which quite frankly is only giving a paltry $2.5 billion to social housing, because municipalities cannot afford to continue to download onto the tax levy what is a national responsibility. To have the member rise on the national platform that is in fact spending 19% less than the Conservatives at their peak is a very interesting proposition to make.

We are looking to take action now. This can no longer be a dream deferred for the millions of people across the country who are in serious core housing need. In Hamilton, we can have record numbers of building permits and cranes dotting the sky while simultaneously having record numbers of people living in the streets. We have heard the government talk about lifting people out of poverty. My question is, where? Who are those people? They certainly do not live in Hamilton Centre.