Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to share some words on this budget.
I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague, the member for Nunavut.
In the context of what Canadians are going through, it has been a tough time. These past couple of years, Canadians have had to deal with the pandemic and the growing cost of living, which is at a crisis level now. The cost of everything has gone up, from filling up our cars, to buying groceries, to finding homes people can afford and paying rent. On top of that, there is a war that makes everyone around the world feel less safe.
In this context, Canadians sent us to Parliament in a minority government to get them help and to find ways to solve the problems that they are dealing with, and we did exactly that. In this minority government, we used our power to win significant victories for people. While other parties have spent their time worried about themselves, and spent their time not responding to Canadians' needs, we focused on what people needed most and we delivered.
We were able to expand our national health care system for the first time in a generation, and do it in a significant way. We delivered dental care for Canadians. Starting this year with children under 12, children who need care the most will be able to get their teeth fixed. That is a significant step forward for so many people. We are proud of that.
We know that this is going to make a big difference in the lives of Canadians and we are going to keep pushing phase two, which will cover children under 18, seniors and people living with disabilities. We will eventually see full implementation of our program, which will mean that everyone in our country who qualifies, and who does not have coverage already, will be able to get their teeth fixed. That is something that we are proud of. That is something that this budget delivers that we used our power to obtain.
I want to share with members what that means for real people. I have spoken with one person in particular named Adam. As I am a new dad, Adam's story really hit me hard. He is a young dad of two kids. Both are under the age of 12, and both need dental work. He figures the estimate for the work they need is about $1,000 for each child. He makes under $70,000 per year and he is barely getting by. It is tough. The rising cost of living has hurt him.
When I spoke with him, I could hear his voice quiver when he shared with me that he feels a bit ashamed. He feels ashamed that he does not know if he can afford to get his kids' teeth fixed, and he feels ashamed that he is wondering if he should just wait until their adult teeth come in. A dad was feeling ashamed that he was not taking care of his kids.
I got to speak with Adam after we made our announcement. He said he had a feeling of relief right now, knowing that his kids would be looked after, and that he did not have to continue to bear the shame of not being able to afford to care for his kids, who he loves so much. It was such a beautiful thing to hear him share that with me.
I have spoken to so many people who tell me that it would be life-changing for them to be able to get their teeth fixed. I was just speaking with a young woman at a bakery where I was purchasing some bread. She thanked me, and said that this would mean that she would be able to look after her teeth, which she had been neglecting for so long.
This is going to be a lot of help for a lot of people. Seniors who, as they age, often encounter problems with their teeth and end up in the hospital and are unable to get the care they need, will be able to get their teeth fixed. This is going to mean a lot to a lot of people.
While we are proud of this victory, I want to also be clear that, as much as this might upset the Conservatives' world view, this is not a New Democrat budget. This is a Liberal budget where we used our power, as New Democrats, to get some victories for people. However, there are a lot of problems with the budget. There are a lot of problems with the approach of the government toward some of the most urgent struggles that people are dealing with.
We are therefore proud that we were able to use our power with this minority government to win some victories for people in this budget. We met the needs of people who said that they were facing major challenges in their lives and who asked us to help them. We were able to support them through a federal program that will help people across the country who cannot afford dental care. This truly marks a turning point, and it will help millions of Canadians. We estimate that about 6.5 million Canadians will have access to dental care thanks to our efforts.
It is also important to mention that the Liberals and the Conservatives voted against this motion and this plan in the past, and that we have now won this victory.
There are a lot of problems. One of the massive problems we have with this budget and the government's approach is about the environment. It is one of the most crucial issues of our time. We know that people are worried about the impact of the climate crisis, not simply for the future but right now in their lives. We are seeing forest fires devastate communities and floods steal away people's homes and their ways of life. Extreme heat waves that we have never seen before are taking the lives of some of the most vulnerable. We are feeling the impacts of the climate crisis now, and we know from scientists that this will only get worse if we do not act.
Despite the seriousness of this crisis, the Liberals' approach has been to give more subsidies to the oil and gas sector instead of cutting them, as we have said, or eliminating them entirely. No public money should be spent on profitable oil and gas companies. Our public money should go to workers impacted by the climate crisis, to investments in renewable energy, and to investments to ensure that we are doing our part to reduce emissions and create good jobs for Canadians. That is where our public money should go. Instead, the Liberals have increased subsidies for the fossil fuel sector. We know that the plan or the price on pollution exempts the biggest polluters: It lets the biggest polluters off the hook, but it disproportionately hurts indigenous people and small businesses. We see this theme. The government makes decisions that benefit those at the top and hurt everyone else.
The other major concern, and one of the most unifying serious crises of our time in Canada right now, is the housing crisis. An issue that used to be more of a concern in large urban centres, such as Vancouver and Toronto, is now a crisis that has gripped every city and municipality in our country. People cannot find homes to call their own. They cannot afford homes. What does that mean for a young person who wants to start a family? I have heard from young people and young families who say they cannot afford a home to raise their kids, so they are not going to have kids. To be forced into a position where they are unable to grow their families just because they cannot find places to call home is pretty bad in a country as wealthy as ours. It is, frankly, shameful. We have people who have good salaries who cannot find homes, people who have limited salaries and people with no income. This is a concern that is impacting all walks of life. All Canadians are struggling.
I have spoken with parents who have beautiful homes, and they tell me their number one concern is the cost of housing. When I tell them they have beautiful houses, they say that their kids are never going to be able to afford a place. Even more so, young people who grow up in a community with their friends, families and connections feel that they will never have a chance to find homes in the communities where they grew up and will have to move somewhere else. When they try to find homes somewhere else, those are too expensive, too.
It is a serious crisis, and we do not see the action necessary to respond to this crisis from the government. We fought for some serious supports and we are proud of those supports to tackle the housing crisis, but we need much more. We need to do a lot more. We need to make up for decades of inaction on the part of Conservative and Liberal governments. When the government fails to continue investing in the housing that people need and fails to ensure that there are affordable options for people over decades and decades, it causes a crisis. When the government sets up a tax system that not only encourages but incentivizes speculation and property flipping, it is no surprise that properties and the cost of homes have gone up. A system has been designed to encourage and incentivize that activity.
We know that the other major crisis, one of the most serious in the country, is the housing crisis. We need more measures to address it. Clearly, people cannot find affordable housing.
We will continue to put more pressure on the government to provide assistance.
Again, these are all choices. If we were in government, New Democrats would make choices to invest in our health care system, increase transfers and make sure that we invest everything possible to build homes that are affordable. We would tackle the housing crisis. We would commit to investing in solutions to create good jobs and fight the climate crisis. That would be a New Democrat budget.
We are proud of the work that we have done, but we have got to make it very clear: decisions by Liberals and Conservatives have gotten us to this point where people cannot afford homes to call their own. They have gotten us to this point where the climate crisis is raging. There is no solution for workers and for people, but we would do it differently. We will continue to fight and be their voice.
It is truly an honour to share these words with my colleagues today.