Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand as the representative for Edmonton Strathcona today to speak about the budget implementation act, Bill C-19.
I thought I would start today with some of the parts of the budget implementation act that I like and am very supportive of. I know many people think politicians only oppose, but I have to say there are things in this budget implementation act that I really like, and that I am really proud of. I thought that was where I would start, and then I am going to dig down to a few of the things in this budget implementation act that cause me a lot of concern and a lot of problems.
However, the first thing I want to say is that I am absolutely delighted to see the first step taken to recognize the desperate need for dental care for children in this country, and I am so proud to be part of the New Democratic Party that made that happen in this budget implementation act.
The previous member for St. John's East was just here today. I just had an opportunity to speak to him earlier today, and I can say his name now. Last year, in the previous Parliament, Mr. Jack Harris brought forward the exact bill to make sure dental care was available for children, and the Conservatives and the Liberals voted against it.
That is how we know that what we are seeing in this budget implementation act is clearly the work of the New Democratic Party. This is something we have been able to provide for Canadians, and as somebody who is part of that caucus, I am so proud. The biggest change and increase in health care for Canadians in decades is happening with this government and this budget implementation act.
I wanted to start with dental care. The single biggest reason children end up in the emergency room is that they do not have access to dental care. I have told the House before that I have two children, and I am very lucky I have a dental plan that comes with my employment, so when both my children required braces, we were able to do that. However, for so many children in this country, that is not possible, so I am very excited about that change.
I am very excited about some of the investments in housing. The joke we always hear in here is that the NDP's response will always be, “It is not enough.” I am going to say that many times today, but I am happy there have been investments in housing and that there is an additional investment of $1.5 billion to build new affordable homes and make changes so Canadians can save hundreds of dollars a month in rent.
I am happy to see there is a ban on foreign homebuyers for the next two years. I am happy to see an additional investment of $4.3 billion in indigenous housing. Everybody in this place should know that this is insufficient for the need, and it is insufficient for the demand, but I am happy to see it in the budget implementation act.
I am happy to see some of the actions taken on tax fairness. I have stood up in the House time and time again and demanded we do more to ensure our tax system is equitable and fair. Canadians are paying more and more for groceries, for rent, for gas and for all of the things they need, but their salaries have not gone up. If things are costing more, and the people who are making money are not making any more money, I wonder where all of those dollars are going. I have to say, they are going to the ultrawealthy.
We do need to do more to make taxes fairer, so while I am excited to see there is a tax on financial institutions, it is not what was promised, and while I am excited to see a luxury tax, it is not enough. We did not see the excess profit tax we wanted to see, so we will keep pushing for some of those things.
There are a few things I certainly could go into more detail with, and I am aware I am going to run out of time, so I want to talk a bit about some of the things I have concerns about. One is a very small thing, and I know I may be one of the only people in this place who is deeply concerned about this. However, in this budget implementation act, it would become illegal for Canadians to break Canadian laws in space. It would become illegal for Canadian companies to break Canadian laws on the moon.
Members may wonder why this matters to the member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona, and I am going to tell them why. I have spent 20 years pushing for Canada to do more to ensure that we have corporate responsibility for our corporations when they work abroad. Right now, this budget implementation act says that people cannot break the law if they are on the moon, but the way the government works right now is that if someone is in Guatemala raping and murdering indigenous people, it is no problem. If someone is in Papua New Guinea causing environmental destruction that will never be recovered, it is no problem, or in Zambia, Namibia, Nicaragua or Ecuador.
Last week, two indigenous leaders from the Amazon pointed out to us that the lungs of our planet are being attacked by Canadian mining companies and we are not holding them to account. We are not doing what we need to do to protect them. It is too bad those Canadian mining companies are not working on the moon, because that is when the government cares. It does not give us a core ombudsperson who can do the job, but it is happy to make sure that the moon is safe. That is where we are at the moment.
The other thing I will talk about, which members have heard me say many times, is that there is not nearly enough in this budget implementation act to deal with the scale and scope of a just transition for workers in Alberta. It is workers across the country, of course, but we know the impacts will be felt in Alberta more than they will be felt anywhere else in this country. Our economy has more invested in the oil and gas sector, and as the economy shifts, we will need more and more investment in the transition.
We should be investing in post-secondary education, making sure it is more accessible, more affordable and easier to access so that people can retrain for different jobs. We should be thinking of massive projects we can do that will employ workers, unionized workers, to build electrical grids and other infrastructure projects that we are going to need as we go forward into the new economy, and we are not seeing that investment here.
One day a few weeks ago, I asked a member of the government what they were planning to do for Alberta, and basically I was told that they are really excited to invest in the auto sector in Ontario. That is great and I am happy to see that, as it is important, but how exactly is that helping with the just transition for Alberta? We need to see a clean jobs training centre. We need to see just transition legislation. My colleague, Linda Duncan, who represented my riding before me, worked so hard on that. She worked on it for 11 years. We still do not have those supports for Alberta workers.
Another thing I want to talk a bit about is the direction and control aspect of this. I have worked very closely with some of my colleagues. The member for Northumberland—Peterborough South and I have worked very closely to move forward the work on a just transition. I was really happy to see that the member for Elmwood—Transcona was able to get some modifications to what was in the BIA on direction and control. This is something that protects charities. My goodness, of all the things we should be working toward, it is making sure that the charitable sector is able to do its job effectively and well.
I realize that I am running out of time. I could talk about a whole bunch of other aspects of the BIA, but I will say that I am disappointed that there is not nearly enough on just transition. I am disappointed that we have no actual increase in health transfers, despite what we hear from the government. I am disappointed that there is nothing for long-term care in this budget implementation act and, of course, I am disappointed there is nothing for mental health. Finally, we really wanted and expected to see something on the disability benefit, and we have not seen that yet. That is a shame, because this is something that has been promised to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, so it is disappointing that it is not in the budget.
I am proud of the victories we have been able to win with this budget implementation act. I am proud of what we see in it, but this is not a budget that a New Democrat would have brought forward. We will continue to fight. We will continue to push, and we will continue to get wins for Canadians.