Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to add some thoughts to the debate. It has been interesting. I am convinced there is no one better at distorting reality than the collective minds of the New Democrats. The member for Timmins—James Bay tried to contrast some of the things he said to reality. There is a fairly wide gap, so I would like to try to close that gap and take down some of the nonsensical rhetoric that comes almost on a daily basis from my New Democratic friends.
If we listen to the speeches from New Democrats, we would be of the opinion that all Canadians once they are born will be given a house. They never have to worry about the health care system. They will not have to worry about the environment because there will not be economic development that will affect the environment in any fashion whatsoever. It is truly amazing to listen to what they say and how wonderful it would be.
We might go back to the wilderness days, with no concrete, no asphalt or no real living conditions that we see as normal in modern society. When we add up all of the expenses, we would find over and above what we currently spend, not $1 billion or $2 billion of additional expenses, it would be billions and billions getting closer to half a trillion dollars in new expenses. That is what we would be talking about.
Put that in the context of the last federal election. When NDP members were knocking on doors, what did they say? They said that they were going to have a balanced budget. To get a snapshot of it, we should listen to what the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski had to say earlier today. She tried to give the impression that the government was doing absolutely nothing in regard to northern Manitoba, nothing with respect to indigenous people. We can look at the hundreds of millions of dollars invested over the last few years under this administration. I would challenge members to find any previous government that has ever invested the type of financial resources this government has in the last three years. That commitment is there, it is real and it is tangible.
The government understands the importance of establishing a healthier relationship with indigenous people. We have made that a top priority. However, we need to listen to what the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski is talking about, even though her riding is probably receiving more federal assistance in different areas than any other riding in the country. This government, by working with people on the ground, has been able to accomplish so much, including potentially the saving of Churchill as a community with our investments. The provincial government completely surrendered it.
We have taken many different actions on a wide variety of social policies. The only thing that is consistent with the New Democrats is that they vote against them. They continue to say that we are never doing enough, that we have to spend billions more. However, they have voted against many of the measures we have taken.
We can talk about pharmacare. It was not an issue of great debate when I was sitting in opposition. When the NDP was the official opposition in the House of Commons, how often did it raise the issue of pharmacare? It was not raising this issue in any way. It was not until this government, in particular the Prime Minister, started to talk about pharmacare that the NDP started to panic. It did not want the Liberals to get any sort of credit for such a progressive measure. The New Democrats then started to talk about how important it was, and they have been talking about it considerably ever since the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada, specifically the standing committee, raised the issue.
It should be no surprise. We have a government that continuously tells its members to go into the constituencies, listen to what Canadians have to say and bring it back to Ottawa. It wants the ideas that are coming from our communities, in all regions, brought back to Ottawa.
Hopefully I am not unveiling a caucus secret, but I can tell members that pharmacare is an important issue in all regions of this country, as virtually every Liberal member of Parliament continues to raise that particular issue. This is not a New Democratic Party issue. I would suggest that it is not even a Liberal Party issue. This is an issue that Canadians have been bringing forward to this government, and this government has been responding to it. For the first time in 40 years, four decades, we finally have a government that is responding to what Canadians see as something of great value, a national pharmacare program. In three years, this government has done more toward a national pharmacare program than the previous series of governments in the last 30 years or 40 years.
We understand the importance of a senior living on a fixed income in a community who wants to have the medications required to have a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, what happens far too often is that, because of the costs of food and shelter, some of the costs of pharmaceuticals are too prohibitive, so prescribed medications are put at a lower priority and that senior is not taking that medication. That is at a huge cost to society, because quite often many of these individuals end up in our health care system, such as hospitals and other facilities. They visit doctors' offices and are told, “Here is your medication. Take this medication and you will be healthier.” Unfortunately, many of these individuals are not able to take it because of the issue of affordability. Because it is an issue of affordability, it is an issue individuals have brought forward.
It is not just citizens. I have met with labour councils, unions and other stakeholders to talk about the benefits of pharmacare. This is not about one individual or political party. I believe that it is, in good part, because this government has been so good at progressive policy changes that we have finally seen a real opportunity to make a change. That is the reason why we are getting a lot more lobbying today from the pharmaceutical industry. The NDP members are saying that these big pharmaceutical companies and stakeholders are lobbying twice as much today as they were before. Because we are looking at making major changes, of course they are going to be lobbying. There is no surprise there.
This government is reflecting on what it is that Canadians want us to be doing. That is what we have seen in our budgets and in our planning virtually from day one, when we had a standing committee made up of all political parties, and I understand there was a unanimous report moving us forward on this issue. However, if we listen to the New Democrats, we would think that, were it not for them, this would not be debated. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is being debated because Canadians want it debated. They want to see a government that is going to move on this plan. I believe the government will move forward on this issue, because we have demonstrated that in very tangible ways, whether it is the creation of buying groups, or the creation of a commitment in the last budget that will see billions of dollars being saved on the purchasing of health care, or a final report that will be coming out in a couple of months. Those are the types of things that have been happening.
Let us move on to this distortion of reality. The Conservatives like to pile in on this issue as well. We are talking about the environment. The New Democrats say they care about the environment. What is interesting is that when we talked about the price on pollution today, for the first time I think the poorest answer I have ever received with respect to that was from the leader of the New Democratic Party.
I am beginning to think that the NDP might be somewhat waffling on a price on pollution. I hope that the New Democrats will give more concrete responses as to what their position is on a price on pollution.
Here we have a national program that other institutions and stakeholders decide to participate in. What is the program? The federal government says that we want to reduce emissions. We are putting aside a pot of money, and we are looking for the private sector, non-profits and governments to come forward to have access to a portion of that money, whether it is municipalities, universities or even the private sector, which has a role to play. There were 50-plus applications received, and yes, Loblaws was one of them. Loblaws committed to invest $48 million to make changes in terms of its refrigeration, of which the federal government would contribute 25%.
In exchange for that, I would note two things. One is that once that investment is done, it will be the equivalent of 50,000 vehicles being taken off the road. To me, that is a good thing. I suspect that most environmentalists would agree that this is a good thing, but not the New Democrats, because they would rather twist and turn to try to make it seem as if this is some sort of elitist policy. That is absolute hogwash.
That is just one aspect of it. In Canada, we have some of the most proactive companies on the green file of any companies in the world. A company in Mississauga, for example, is one of the companies that is going to be providing that modernized refrigeration. It is going to have access to that $48 million, and that is going to employ many Canadians as a direct result.
The New Democrats will mock that. Who cares about those jobs? Whether they are union or not, who cares? They want to focus on that $12 million and the so-called fridge. At the end of the day, this $48-million project, which is the equivalent of taking the emissions of 50,000 cars annually off the road through this technology, would in fact have an impact on jobs. More important, it will advance the technology that is so badly needed to improve the conditions of refrigeration into the future. That is what I would suggest is forward thinking, something that has been lacking among New Democrats in recent years.
The New Democrats have caught on to what the Conservatives love doing. They would rather focus their attention on attacking the government. It does not matter what the Government of Canada actually does. It does not matter what kind of policies we bring in. They want to try to personalize it. They want to ramp it up. They want to twist reality.
When he talked about the policy I just enunciated, the member from Timmins—James Bay said that we are going to give $12 million to some rich dude who is living in the United States. That is how he has encapsulated that whole story. I suspect that if I were to have an intelligent discussion with the member from James Bay at a local university here in Ottawa, a vast majority of those students who participated would recognize that this is a smart thing to be doing by providing incentives to companies, governments and non-profit agencies that are going to move us forward on the issue of climate change.
I would have thought the NDP would recognize that and be supportive of it. The Conservatives do not surprise me on the issue. After all, let us remember, I think it has been 365 days and we are still waiting for a Conservative plan.
I think we will find that many Conservatives actually like the Liberal plan, even some of the former policy individuals in the Harper government like the idea of a price on pollution. In fact, I believe the original idea in North America can ultimately be rooted in the Province of Alberta. It had the idea of a price on pollution and then implemented it.