Madam Speaker, I am extremely pleased to rise today to take part in this discussion, this very important debate. I applaud the excellent speech given by the previous speaker, my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway. She did a great job presenting the progressive and humanistic vision of concrete gains that the NDP wants to achieve for people, including citizens, tenants, seniors, those who are struggling, and the less fortunate.
While it is not perfect, the budget does have some good points, and I will talk about them. The NDP managed to get some of the things we wanted, but not all of them, and we will continue to work on those.
This also stems from the fact that Quebeckers and Canadians voted in another minority government in Ottawa, with roughly the same proportion of members for each party as before. Voters told us to work together and come up with solutions, much like Jack Layton told us back in the day. In fact, our campaign slogan in Quebec in 2011 was about working together, so we in the NDP have used our strength, the fact that we hold the balance of power, to negotiate with this minority government in order to make gains and progress.
I too will come back to the very real gain of having a dental care program. It is a major breakthrough. At the NDP we have always been very proud of being the force behind our universal and free public health care system. The system still needs to be improved, of course, and we obviously agree that transfers to the provinces need to be enhanced.
The system presents us with an absurd situation where some parts of the body are insured by the public plan but others are not. For example, my heart is insured, my lungs are insured, but my teeth and my eyes are not. It is as though the human body is a puzzle and some pieces are insured but others are not. Dental care, for example, is a major piece.
During the last election campaign, when I was door‑knocking and talking to the people of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, Montreal and Quebec in general, people were very pleased with and receptive to the NDP's proposal to provide accessible dental care free of charge to people who earn less than $90,000 a year.
I believe that this budget sets out a clear game plan. Beginning this year, children under 12 will be eligible for free dental care. Beginning next year, teens, seniors aged 65 and over and people living with disabilities will be eligible. In the third year of the plan, all households, families and individuals earning less than $90,000 a year will be eligible. Fully one-third of Canadians will have access to dental care, whereas currently they do not.
We know that this has a considerable impact on people's lives, and especially on their wallets, because dental care is very expensive. If people have to pay out of pocket and cannot do so, they will not go to the dentist for cleaning or care, even though they should.
I believe that this has an impact on one's self-esteem, personal life and professional life, when it comes to choosing a career. The quality of dental health care is a question of social class, and I am very proud that the NDP, the opposition party, was able to get dental care into the budget. This will deliver tangible results for people.
This is not about creating a federal program with federal dental clinics and federal dentists. This is about instituting an insurance plan that will cover the bills for people eligible for this program. The bills will be paid by the government so that people do not have to pay out of pocket, which will help families in Quebec and all across Canada save thousands of dollars a year.
I am also very pleased to see a game plan for pharmacare. The first steps of the Hoskins report will be implemented through a bill slated to be introduced next year. This will be an important step forward.
We pay far too much for medications, which hurts workers, businesses and the government. A public, universal pharmacare program that is, of course, negotiated with the provinces, would represent a breakthrough that would help everyone. Quebec civil society, the Union des consommateurs du Québec, the FTQ, the CSN and the CSQ have all called for such a program.
The NDP believes that this can be done while giving Quebec the right to opt out with full compensation. However, we believe that this program would have so many benefits that it would ultimately be worthwhile for everyone, for both workers and employers.
The cost of supplementary health insurance is staggering. It has been skyrocketing for years. There are workers who must sign up for these supplementary insurance plans through their job. For example, I have met people who work part time in grocery stores in Montreal, and 25% of their salary is used to pay for these company insurance plans, the supplemental insurance packages. A universal public pharmacare program could represent a nearly 25% increase in salary for people who work part time, particularly in grocery stores.
Another major gain we won in this budget was redefining the term “affordable housing”. Under the Liberals, affordable housing in Montreal could cost $2,225 a month according to CMHC rules. This is completely absurd and out of touch with reality. We negotiated a review of this definition so that it would not exceed 80% of the average price of housing in a municipality. For Montrealers, that means $730 a month for affordable housing. That is quite a difference. We have just lowered the price of an affordable unit in CMHC projects by about $1,500, but we are also increasing the percentage of mandatory affordable housing units in projects from 20% to 40%. I am particularly proud of that. Home ownership and being able to pay the rent is a big concern for people. Again, in the last election, people often talked to us about health care and housing. For years, there has been a serious housing crisis in Montreal and in Quebec in general. We should be proud of this win.
One area in which the budget does not pass muster is the environment and the climate crisis. We would have liked to see much more ambition and action from the Liberal government. It is cutting one small oil subsidy, but it is creating a sizable new one with the tax credit for carbon capture, which is an inefficient technology. It is a kind of high-tech magic wand that will not appreciably reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberals' failure to deliver meaningful results in this area is appalling. Their greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan is just not good enough right now. They talked about targeting 40% to 45% reductions, but that does not meet the IPCC target of at least 50%, which is what the NDP campaigned on. Within that 40% to 45% range, they are aiming for the low end, the 40%. For the oil sector, the goal is 31%. Essentially, the government is giving the oil sector a gift when it is one of the industries, together with transportation, that should be working harder.
Recently I was amazed to learn that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions had gone down for the first time since the Liberals have been in power, but that was for 2020. In 2020, the economy was on pause because of the global pandemic. They celebrated that decline even though they had nothing to do with it and the economy was basically a standstill. There were no trucks or cars in the street, no transportation, no manufacturing. That is not how we are going to meet our international obligations and provide a brighter and more reassuring future for our children and grandchildren. We are not going to get there with decisions like the one on the Bay du Nord project, which, fortunately, is not in the budget. It is a ministerial order. A decision like the one on the Bay du Nord development project is not going to take us in the right direction because we are once again going to increase oil production in Canada through a totally irresponsible project. Yes, we are aware that extracting oil in this way is less polluting than the oil sands, but production in the oil sands has not decreased either. That oil produces 85% of its pollution when it is burned, when it is consumed. That means that if it is consumed abroad because we exported it, it is not counted as part of our record, which is completely unrealistic, anti‑scientific and hypocritical. It should be factored into our record because we are the ones who decided to extract it.
We are extremely disappointed in the climate and environmental measures in the Liberal budget. We managed to make some progress for Canadians, but we will continue to work hard on other issues, including the environment.