Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that this is an important week, National Nursing Week. I want to take this opportunity to thank not only the amazing nurses of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford but those who work across Vancouver Island, the province of B.C. and our great country for the hard work they do every day.
For people who doubt how severe an illness COVID-19 really is, they need only speak to a nurse who works incredibly long hours in an ICU, who helps patients in respiratory distress and who is often the only one there when a patient meets his or her end. I want to acknowledge our amazing nurses and thank them for their service. They do an amazing job on behalf of our communities.
We are at a point now where we have been battered quite hard by COVID-19, and this third wave has certainly been the worst of them all. I know people are exhausted everywhere. Some members before me have referenced the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that we all feel at this moment. We are all looking for some light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel.
However, we are at the stage now where there is a noticeable uptake in vaccinations. We are certainly at a point in British Columbia right now where people in my age group are starting to book their vaccination appointments. In fact, I just booked mine today. I am looking forward to getting that first shot and joining the growing list of my fellow citizens who have received theirs.
Today, we are here to discuss Bill C-30, the government's budget implementation act, which followed its April budget. It proposes several legislative changes to bring those measures into force. However, I do not think that all the measures that were announced in the budget are contained in the bill. I have heard reference that a second implementation act will follow in the fall of this year.
I have been listening to the speeches on Bill C-30 today and to some of the concerns about the spending that is going on in this budget and the eye-watering deficit in which we find ourselves. We would not be at this stage if it had not been for the pandemic. We have had to open up the federal taps to help struggling small businesses and individuals weather this storm, and to ensure those small businesses are still in operation when we finally are clear of the pandemic.
However, in all the concerns I have heard about the spending, I have not really heard much discussion from either the Liberals or Conservatives on how we address the revenue shortfall, how we ensure that when we get back on the road of recovery, when we try to get the books back to a balanced status, that we do not unfairly place the burden on working families. We need only look at the example in the 1990s when the Liberal government, with finance minister Paul Martin, had a very large axe, and they swung it everywhere. There were incredible slashes made to health care transfers and housing, and that left a lot of working families in extreme pain.
How do we move forward in a way that saves working families from continuing to bear the brunt of the costs from this pandemic? The answer is simple. It is a wealth tax, which is a simple 1% on fortunes of over $20 million. We have proposed that because we are in a state now where over the last year we have seen Canada's billionaires increase their wealth by an exponential amount.
I am still scratching my head when I hear my Conservative colleagues say that this is not time to impose a tax. Clearly, Canadians of all political persuasion have indicated strong favour for imposing a wealth tax, for ensuring that the wealthy and well-connected are paying their fair share. A 1% tax on fortunes of over $20 million is not targeting our normal constituents. In fact, I do not think I know anyone personally with a fortune of over $20 million. This is a smart economic policy to ensure that the burden does not fall on most of our constituents. It is about finding that way forward.
I would have liked to have seen Bill C-30 and, indeed, the budget speech from April 19 contain some specific references to targeting very wealthy individuals, maybe putting in a profiteering tax, similar to what the Canadian government did during World War II, as well as harsher measures to crack down on tax evasion. So much revenue is slipping through the fingers of the CRA right now. People who can afford to pay that money, who have the means to pay the tax, are not paying their fair share and are using existing loopholes to escape notice. It is shameful behaviour and it is morally wrong. It means that the rest of our constituents have to shoulder that unfair burden.
I am also very interested in the part of the budget implementation legislation that deals with child care. I am a very strong believer and supporter of child care. I ran very strongly on this platform in 2015. I remember the Liberals criticizing the NDP plan back then, so it is nice to see they have now adopted it, almost six years later, and that it is finally in the budget.
However, I compare the rationale behind child care versus what the Liberals have said on pharmacare. Under division 34 of of the bill, we see a legislative framework to set up child care, yet when the NDP proposed a legislative framework that was based on the Canada Health Act to bring in a pharmacare system, the Liberals voted against that.
Child care is great, and I really hope this time around it does succeed, but when it comes to pharmacare, we have been waiting since 1997, when the Liberals last promised it. Every month, families right across the country are having to make those difficult decisions when there are unexpected medical costs. It can really break the family budget. Those investments can have a tangible impact on the budgets of working families and help them make it from month to month.
The member for St. John's East, my great colleague, has introduced a motion in the House of Commons to expand our health care system to include dental care. That is also a key missing element. For the life of me, I cannot understand why health care coverage ends at one's tonsils and does not include strong oral care. We know that poor oral health is a very strong indicator of more serious medical conditions. It is ultimately a class issue. People who have the means and the wealth can afford good dental care. Often people are lucky enough to have good dental coverage through their work. However, a lot of people have lost those benefits in this pandemic. They have had their hours reduced or they have lost their jobs altogether. We need to make those very important and specific investments in health care.
It is great that the budget implementation bill addressed EI sickness benefits, unfortunately raising it only to 26 weeks. The House of Commons has repeatedly indicated support for the full 52 weeks or even 50 weeks, which I have heard in some iterations. This is important because Canada pension plan disability benefits do not often kick in unless someone has a demonstrated illness or injury that will make them incapable of work for over a year. Often people are falling in the gap between what the Liberals are now proposing, the 26 weeks, and a full year, which is 52 weeks. That could have been done quite easily.
The Liberals do enjoy their half-measures, so if 26 weeks is what we will get this time, I will accept, but I want it to be known that it is not good enough. Definite improvements need to be made to that.
I know I am within my last minute, so I will end on a positive note. The budget is certainly a mixed bag, but as the NDP critic for agriculture, it is nice to see some investments coming to that sector, really trying to concentrate on the area of environmental sustainability. Our farmers are on the front lines of climate change, but they also have the tools to be one of our greatest weapons in fighting climate change. In the future, I would love to see more investments come their way, investments that concentrate on the sector's ability to sequester carbon.