Mr. Speaker, during question period on December 12, 2014, I asked this government to answer for its false promises.
The Conservatives lied to us all when they promised flexible federalism, where the provinces would be respected.
In the history of Canada, I do not believe there has ever been a government as closed to the idea of consulting the provinces, when they are the ones most affected by a number of very serious concerns.
Recently, the Prime Minister decided to make unilateral changes to health transfers, without consulting the provinces. The provinces will have to deal with a net loss of $36 billion in the area of health.
Even though the cost of a number of medical services and investments in cutting-edge technology are growing, the message being sent to the provinces is to do more with less.
Having more and more bills and fewer and fewer means with which to pay them is a situation that oddly resembles Canadian household debt, another issue the government is not willing to come up with viable solutions for.
I want to read two passages from the preamble to the Canada Health Act.
The first reads as follows:
...that future improvements in health will require the cooperative partnership of governments, health professionals, voluntary organizations and individual Canadians...
This can be summarized in one word: consultation.
In that passage, there is an s at the end of the word “governments”. We wonder if this government understands its own laws. It seems to me that there is a huge difference between the words “co-operation” and “unilateralism”.
Since I was elected, the Conservatives have been the champions of unilateralism. The Conservatives unilaterally make decisions that will have a long-term effect on the quality of life of all Canadians. Making decisions without consultation seems to be their mantra.
The second passage from the same law reads as follows:
...whereas the Parliament of Canada wishes to encourage the development of health services throughout Canada by assisting the provinces in meeting the costs thereof...
Providing support means working with the provinces to come up with a lasting solution. Once again, this is an example of the Prime Minister's lack of leadership. The provinces need a federal partner that understands their concerns and wants to improve the public health care system.
Providing support does not mean cutting $36 billion in health transfers to the provinces; it does not mean cutting employment insurance; and it does not mean giving gifts to big business.
Supporting the provinces involves planning for the future by offering them reasonable funding and establishing joint strategies. The provinces are being forced to suffer the consequences of a government that does not want to pay its fair share and will do anything to off-load its responsibilities onto them.
We are jeopardizing the sustainability of our free universal health care system.
What will happen to the great Canadian promise of free universal health care when the provinces can no longer afford to provide it? Once again, it will be people in need, those who are vulnerable or sick, who will suffer the consequences of these high-handed decisions.
Provincial and territorial health expenditures continue to grow. In the long term, vital services that families depend on will no longer be available.
The NDP is simply asking the Conservatives to start working with the provinces. We want the Conservatives to stop cutting transfers and stop off-loading their responsibilities onto the provinces.
When will the Conservatives open their eyes and veer off the dangerous economic path they are going down?