Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak to our motion with respect to dental care. It is amazing what I have seen over the years. There is always an excuse not to help children with health care and people who need some type of assistance.
At the end of the day, this is a matter of political will. We can listen to all the different excuses such as not enough money being there, but there is money for the submarines that do not work right. There is money for planes that have not been delivered, and with overrun costs.
I will give a classic example of something that just came to its anniversary. The money we borrowed for a new tax on Canadians. The HST was brought in and we gave money to the Provinces of British Columbia and Ontario to enter into the program. We had the economic analysis on the cost on the of borrowing over 10 years. Ontario received $4.6 billion and British Columbia received $1.6 billion to British Columbia. It is now over $7.1 billion in cost.
When we are talking about the dental care for Canadians, we are also talking about the savings we would have for so many people who do not have the necessary coverage. We are also talking about the improvement in our economy by having a healthier workforce. Those are not immeasurable in the economics being applied here today, but they are tangible at the end of the day for the Canadian economy.
There is no doubt that when looking at dental care, it is one of the most underestimated investments when it comes to health care. There are several factors that help people with their dental care. It is not even just about cleaning and an avoidance of pain. We also deal with other health problems, such as respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease, dementia, infections, diabetic complications, renal disease complications, premature birth and low birth weight. These are all related to poor dental care.
We can always find an excuse not to start something and the motion speaks to that. It is specifically about making a budgetary choice in this Parliament. It is very much isolated to the moment with respect to economics and its accountability for the public.
We are asking the the House to call on the government to change its proposed tax cuts by targeting benefits to those who earn less than $90,000 per year and use those savings to invest in priorities that give real help to Canadians, including dental coverage for uninsured families making less than $90,000 per year.
Millions of Canadians will now be able to afford some type of basic dental coverage. When we did the work in the partnership and outreach for this motion, statistics indicated that 35.4% of Canadians reported that they had no dental insurance.
There are people in our neighbourhoods who are unable to get coverage. A significant portion of the population do not have any insurance whatsoever. What money they use on oral hygiene and health care is at the expense of rent, food or investment in education.
It is important to note that those people are also most likely to be under-employed, unemployed or work part-time. It is so hard for this chamber to wrap itself around the fact that we want a simple choice to start a significant program that would at least touch the worst of the worst in Canada. It is amazing we can always find a reason not to do it, but we can find a reason to buy a pipeline and buy submarines that do not work right. We can find all kinds of reasons for pet projects and corporations, including Mastercard and Loblaws. We always hear the explanation of why it is possible and why it has to be done.
However, when it comes to protecting kids, when it comes to providing a basic coverage for them and their families that are the worst off, there is always a reason not to do it.
This is what is disappointing. With all the problems we face right now in the country, one of the most civilized countries on the planet, we cannot help some of the people in our constituencies when it comes to oral hygiene and dental problems. Is it too big of a problem for us to fix? Is it that we cannot do it and we will have to leave it up to another Parliament? Maybe it will find the wisdom. Can we not find the small amount of money in the budget to reallocate toward this proposal?
I talked about the HST and the continued legacy of debt and deficit. We continue to finance that deficit to bring a tax on ourselves. What I have not said is that we are still not in a surplus. We are still paying interest on that debt. There was no problem finding the money for that.
However, to pay for this, there is a problem. I do not understand it. I think most Canadians are on board with this. I think most Canadians understand the vulnerabilities. When we look at the numbers, it also affects women. For a government that says it is dealing with some of the systemic problems in relation to women and society, again, this is another missed opportunity. The statistics show that 24.1% of women are more likely than men, 20%, to report costs as a barrier. People are saying they are not taking care of themselves because of that. It is an issue of finance. Canadians aged 18 to 34, 28%, were the age group most likely to report costs as a barrier for dental care.
We are at a time when we have burdened our youth with expenses from post-secondary education that are historic. We are passing on a legacy of debt to them, as well as a legacy of other issues for them to deal with. They also have some of the highest rates of unemployment and under-employment. There is also the fact that many of the jobs they enter into do not have benefit packages.
We are saying that we give up, that we cannot do it, that it is too complicated for us and that we cannot figure it out. There is no consensus here. Nobody else can offer an amendment? There could have been an amendment to this to make it work. That is fine. We are open to that. An amendment could have happened here. However, the government is saying no, that it cannot do that, that it is too complicated and too hard. The government just cannot be bothered and that is sad.
Those young people are our future. One would think we would have the common sense to actually be preventative. One of the reasons we talk about this in a prevention model is that there is also another $155 million approximately for people to go to hospital emergency rooms to have their teeth taken take care of. However, we do not know the true costs because people do not even do it.
I do not know a Canadian out there right now who would not like to have an emergency room that is not cluttered with mental health issues and other types of unnecessary appointments. People have to go to emergency rooms because they are desperate and have nowhere else to go. I do not know anyone out there who would not agree that these cases do not need to be there when there are other emergencies.
That would be one of the better things that could streamline our system. How much money are we losing and tying up because people cannot get the proper basic coverage for their dental care?
For many mental health issues, we do not provide actual supports out there. People end up going to the hospital because they have no other options or they go to a clinic, if they are really desperate. We pay for that. That does not make any sense.
Again, I would argue the economic value of this for employers who are looking to invest in Canada. This is significant because it takes this off their books and puts it toward a workforce that is healthy, stronger, more competitive and productive. That is good for all Canadians, because those people then pay taxes.