Madam Speaker, I would like to lay out the scenario we are in right now. In the context of the throne speech, where the government laid out its vision for Canada, I want to lay out some of the realities Canadians are facing.
We are up against an affordability crisis, which means that people are struggling to put food on the table, pay their bills and, most of all, find a home to call their own. This affordability crisis is impacting all Canadians, particularly when it comes to the housing crisis. People who have good jobs cannot find housing. People who have low income jobs, people who have no income and Canadians across this country are struggling with housing, and we are in a real crisis.
Added to that, we are up against a climate crisis, and we are seeing the direct impacts of that climate crisis right now in British Columbia, where we are feeling the impacts right now of the devastation of extreme weather. The flooding that has occurred in B.C. has impacted people's lives in tremendous ways. People have lost their homes and their farms. People have lost their lives.
We know that the climate crisis has often been referred to as a problem for our future, and we talk about protecting the environment for our kids. We are up against a crisis about protecting the environment for the present, and we have to protect it for our lives now.
With these urgent housing, affordability and climate crises, we do not see the government responding with an urgency commiserate to the seriousness of the problems. We do not see that urgency in its action, and it is not sufficient to just point out that there is a crisis. If we acknowledge there is a crisis, we have to respond as if there really is one. When it comes to the climate crisis, the housing crisis and the affordability crisis, the government is simply not responding, and the throne speech did not provide the vision of a government that is responding appropriately to the problems Canadians are now faced with.
The crises we are dealing with are obviously hitting us hard. The climate crisis is hitting British Columbia hard, but it is not just British Columbia. We have been seeing extreme temperatures in this country for years: heat waves, forest fires and now floods. The climate crisis is not just something to worry about for the future. It is an issue right now, and we need a rapid, urgent response immediately.
I talked about the housing crisis, which is raging from coast to coast to coast. Let me share an example of what is going on in Montreal, Quebec. We know families are finding it tough to make ends meet. The rising cost of living is making that even tougher. Plus, housing costs keep going up, and this government does not understand the meaning of “affordable housing”. The government thinks rent of $2,225 a month is affordable in Montreal, but it definitely is not.
What Canadians need in this time of difficulty is a government that understands that the only way to move forward when people are in crisis is to respond with real action, not with symbolic gestures, nice words or an understanding of the problem, but with a concrete plan to solve the problem. That is what we need, and this throne speech failed to provide that commitment to Canadians. It failed to provide a commitment that the government will respond to the problems facing Canadians with an urgency equal to those problems.
Right now, Canadians are also looking at the pandemic, and they are frustrated, afraid and worried. They have been left feeling really uncertain about the future. The omicron variant obviously increases that uncertainty. While people are struggling to get back on their feet, and while we are pushing forward toward a recovery, people want to make sure that this recovery is one that is actually focused on them, not on those at the very top. We have seen this before, and it is important to highlight why people are worried.
They are worried because they have seen previous governments, in times of difficult financial crisis, have recoveries that did not benefit workers, did not benefit people and did not benefit families, but they certainly benefited those at the very top, the wealthy and the powerful corporations, but they did not translate to real recovery for workers and people. That is the same fear that people are experiencing right now. They are worried that the government is not focused on a recovery for all, but is focused on one that will benefit those at the very top.
We have already seen that happen. The recovery is already moving in a K shape, where those who were well off or doing well before continue to do so, and those who were struggling are now worse off. We need concrete action. What does that mean? What is the concrete action we are looking for?
Let us start with the environment. Concrete action is what Canadians are calling for in the crises that they are dealing with. They want a vision and a plan to deal with the crises they are dealing with in a real, meaningful way. For the climate crisis, we know we have to tackle it broadly. We need to reduce emissions. We cannot see the government continue to set target after target just to miss those targets. We need real accountability. We need real transparency, and we need real, bold targets to reduce our emissions so we are doing our part to fight the global climate crisis.
We need to move toward a renewable energy future. There is no question about it. We need to make investments in that renewable energy future. One of the ways we can do that, a concrete and substantive way to do that, is to permanently and finally end all fossil fuel subsidies.
We have heard a lot from the Liberals. They have talked about ending fossil fuel subsidies for years. They have promised to do it for years, but instead of reducing fossil fuel subsidies or eliminating them, they have actually increased them to the highest level in our country's history. They have, in fact, increased them more than the Harper Conservatives did. This is a government that claims to care about the environment, yet its track record when it comes to its own promise on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies is worse than that of the Harper Conservatives.
We just had COP26, and all countries agree that we need to be eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. The reason is that our public money should not go toward subsidizing, with our public dollars, the fossil fuel sector, but should be better spent in investing and incentivizing renewable energy that does not increase our carbon footprint. We need to be investing in those technologies of the future with our public dollars so there would be a double impact.
We also know that we cannot fight the climate crisis if we leave workers behind, and the labour movement has worked really hard to make sure, when we talk about a future in which we fight the climate crisis, there has to be a just transition. That stands for a lot of things.
A just transition means that workers are at the heart of our climate change and climate crisis policies. It means that workers are always front and foremost. It means that workers know what their future will look like. It means a real plan for workers so they do not have the uncertainty of looking at the global markets rise and fall and the uncertainty of commodity prices. They need a clear plan. The government owes it to workers to provide them with a clear plan for what their today will look like and what their tomorrow will look like as well.
A just transition is about fairness for workers, and it gives priority to workers. It is vital that the plan is made clear. So far, this throne speech and what we have heard from the government do not provide that plan to workers. Workers are left behind, and left uncertain about their futures.
Tackling the climate crisis also means making sure that we are helping communities that are grappling with the impacts of extreme weather right now. Sadly, we know that with the climate crisis, extreme weather is going to become more and more common. If that is the case, then communities that have already been hit hard, and which are likely to be hit hard in the future, need investments in infrastructure to make sure that they are resilient.
We need to make sure that we are not only responding to crises, but that we are acting proactively to prevent those disasters from happening in the first place. That is something we are calling for. It is an opportunity to create good jobs, make investments in communities dealing with aging infrastructure, and build more resilient communities. That is a part of our plan and what we would have wanted to see in a throne speech, something that actually speaks to the realities of people.
I attended COP26, and it is clear that subsidies to oil companies must be eliminated. Everyone agrees. However, the Liberal government's record is the worst in the G20. It has increased subsidies to oil companies even though it committed to eliminating them.
We need to eliminate those subsidies and invest in renewable energy. We need to promote clean energy, and that is exactly what we will continue to promote, because it is essential. We also need to invest in communities dealing with extreme weather, which is increasingly becoming the norm, in order to create more resilient, more sustainable infrastructure.
We need immediate action on the housing crisis. Former Bank of Canada governor Mr. Poloz has stated very clearly that, in this housing crisis, the federal government absolutely has a role to play. We believe that too. We agree that the federal government has a role to play in tackling the housing crisis and needs to do so immediately. There are two key things the government needs to do, and they are what we would have laid out in a New Democrat throne speech.
First, the speculation and pressures that are driving up the cost of housing need to be tackled. If we look at the increase in prices for housing, they are rising astronomically. We need to see clear measures put in place to reduce those pressures. This could be a national foreign buyers tax. We need to see efforts to stop property flipping, which is driving up the cost of homes. We need to see real measures put in place to reduce those speculative forces that are driving up the cost of housing.
Second, we have a supply problem. It is clear there is not enough housing available for people within their budget. We need the government to massively mobilize to work with provinces and municipalities to build more homes that are within people's budgets. There are lots of things that the federal government can do. There is federal land across the country that can be converted into housing.
There are opportunities to work with municipalities, and with provinces and territories, to invest massively in housing. We need to ensure that we build at least half a million new homes. We need to invest in not-for-profit housing and co-operative housing. We need massive investments in housing now, and we need to help those who want to own their first home be able to do so.
We also need to specifically respond to the needs of indigenous communities. That includes urban indigenous, as well as indigenous communities living on reserve, or in rural and remote communities. We need a specific “for indigenous, by indigenous” housing plan that responds to the needs of indigenous people, and we need it immediately.
It is clear that investments are needed in affordable housing and social housing, and they are needed now. We will continue to press the government for immediate, concrete action to address this crisis.
On health care, we are dealing with the impacts of this pandemic. People have seen how this pandemic has laid bare the pre-existing problems in our health care system. One of those fundamental problems is the fact that this Liberal government, as well as previous Conservative and Liberal governments, have been continually cutting the help people and provinces need by cutting transfers in health care.
Those cuts have hurt provinces, they have hurt people and they need to be reversed. All provinces and territories agree that we need increases in health care transfers, and this government needs to make that happen in a long-lasting, sustainable way.
We are up against nursing shortages and front-line health care worker shortages. We know that we need to expand our health care system to include dental care, pharmacare and mental health supports. Our public health care system is something that Canadians are very proud of, but it has to be protected. We have to be vigilant, and we need to invest in it to keep it public. We also need to expand it to provide the care that people need, which is what New Democrats are committed to doing.
We are committed to fulfilling the vision and dream of Tommy Douglas, who believed that health care should cover us from head to toe. When it was first imagined, our health care system was always imagined to include medication coverage, dental care and mental health services. We want to realize that dream and complete that vision.
It is essential that we fund our health care system properly to keep it public and universal. All provinces and territories agree that health transfers must be increased. The NDP will continue to push for this because our party believes deeply in our public and universal health care system.
We want it to be properly funded, and we want to expand it to include universal pharmacare, dental care and mental health supports. We will get this done and fulfill Tommy Douglas's dream of head-to-toe health care.
In terms of immediate action, we need immediate action on justice for indigenous people. We hear the government talk about reconciliation and make promises, but it has not delivered. It continues to take indigenous kids to court and it is fighting indigenous kids in court. These are the children of survivors of residential schools, and that same legacy of discrimination continues. We want to see an end to these court battles against indigenous children. We need to make sure that there is justice for the first peoples of this land.
We continue to see police violence against indigenous people. Specifically, we have called many times for a review of the RCMP, particularly on its actions when it comes to indigenous people and racialized people. Right now, we see extreme force being used on land defenders in Wet'suwet'en. We are deeply concerned about the use of force. We have already called for a review of those actions, and we will continue to call for reforms on policing to make sure that indigenous people and racialized people are not subject to violence and death at the hands of the police. We want to see a system that is overhauled and reviewed, and we will continue to push for that.
We need to see real reconciliation, and that means quality housing that is available in all indigenous communities. It also means clean drinking water, which is something this government promised but has failed to deliver. We are going to continue to fight to make sure that all people in this country, particularly indigenous people, have access to clean drinking water. That is a basic human right, and we will continue to fight for that.
I will wrap up with some actions this government can take immediately. I mentioned stopping the legal battles against indigenous kids, but it could also take immediate action to ensure that it fixes some of the problems that are going on.
Right now, there are GIS and child benefit clawbacks. Vulnerable seniors and families are not receiving the funds they need, because they needed help during the pandemic. That needs to end immediately. We also need to reform the EI system, which clearly does not work for the majority of Canadians. As well, we need sick leave passed before the House rises, and we need conversion therapy passed before the House rises. These are some concrete things we can do now.
The big question is who will pay for the recovery. We have believed all along that it should be the super wealthy, those at the very top, who need to pay their fair share. The burden should not fall on the people.
We need immediate action, and the New Democrats are committed to that. Canadians can trust us to fight for them and to make this Parliament work for them. Our vision is a Canada in which no one is left behind and we lift each other up. That is what we are going to fight for.