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  • His favourite word is amendment.

NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions October 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, finally, I have a petition signed by hundreds of people who are concerned about the Emerson report suggestions to dismantle established rules governing cabotage in Canada.

The petitioners call on the House to protect Canadian seafarers and port assets to ensure Canada has a strong domestic internal waterway system that protects Canadian jobs and Canadian Maritime assets.

Petitions October 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with Canadians who are very concerned about the treatment of temporary foreign workers in our country. They point out that many of them are exploited and that there is inadequate protection for them.

The petitioners call on the House to enact the recommendations laid out by the HUMA committee in the temporary foreign worker program report issued in 2016.

Petitions October 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to table.

The first petition is from Canadians who signed an electronic petition, 1018. They note that the vast majority of Canadians oppose cruel and inhumane practices against animals.

The petitioners call on the House to work toward having Canada become an animal testing free country by 2020, and ensure that existing and future animals in labs be released in good health instead of being euthanized until animal testing is phased out by 2020.

Health October 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we know that millions of Canadians cannot afford the medicines they need. The PBO confirms that we can provide prescription coverage to every single Canadian, while saving billions of dollars.

Later today, the House will vote on an NDP motion to start negotiations with the provinces and territories within one year to create universal pharmacare. This is a common-sense proposal, sound public policy that will help millions and saves billions.

Will the Liberals join us and support pharmacare for all Canadians?

Business of Supply October 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, during the last election, many Canadians voted for a new way of doing things. We have to remember that. Although this motion comes from the official opposition, the Conservative Party, the last four years of its administration were not exactly unmarred by ethical issues. There were many examples of Conservative senators who did not seem to know where they lived and claimed per diems in this city when they lived here, and to whom $90,000 was paid by operatives in the Prime Minister's Office, and there were attempts to suppress reports.

When I campaigned during the last election, I heard a very clear message from Canadians that they wanted a strong recommitment to ethics in their government. The Liberal finance minister said that he would put his considerable assets in a blind trust, and two years later we find out that he did not. He forgot to list a numbered company that owns his villa in France, even though he is obligated to report all of his assets, including numbered companies. We found out he has assets parked offshore in noted tax havens like Barbados. Finally, we found out that he has been sitting at the cabinet table making decisions every single day for the last two years when he knows what his assets are and is making decisions on issues that would affect the value of those assets. At the same time, I have heard Liberals ask what the problem is. They do not seem to understand that there are clear conflicts of interest. Frankly, there are real conflicts of interest, not just apparent conflicts of interest, and serious ethical breaches.

What is my hon. colleague's comment on the Liberals saying today that there is really nothing to see here, that Canadians should not be concerned about the Liberal finance minister, but we should, instead, be talking about other issues like the economy?

Business of Supply October 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, the member for Elmwood—Transcona gave an outstanding speech, and he made several powerful arguments and comments.

The amount of deflecting and excuse-making I have heard from the government side of the House today is almost unprecedented, but I have not heard a single Liberal disagree with the two fundamental realities in Canada right now: millions of Canadians cannot get pharmaceutical coverage, and a universal pharmacare system would save billions of dollars.

My hon. colleague pointed out that in terms of working out the details, of course we would have to sit down with the provinces and work out what kind of formulary we would have and how the costs would be shared. The bottom line is that whoever pays for pharmaceuticals now would still be paying for them after universal pharmacare, but they would be paying at least $4 billion less.

Since I cannot get the Liberals to explain the problem with that, would my hon. colleague explain any public policy arguments he sees against that proposition?

Business of Supply October 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's thoughtful remarks. For a second there, I thought he was a New Democrat.

What an apology for inaction we just heard. It is a classic Liberal position to say that they believe completely in universal pharmacare, but just not yet. There were a number of errors in the member's statement. For instance, he commented that the motion calls on the government to move immediately or thoughtlessly. It does no such thing. For any Canadian watching, the motion calls on the government to commence negotiations with the provinces within one year. That is to start discussions within a year with a view to implementing national pharmacare. That is not irresponsible. In fact, I drafted this motion specifically to give the government enough time.

By that time, the report of the committee will have been issued. In fact, it will be out in a month or two. However, we already know two basic facts. We know that millions of Canadians are not covered and we know that pharmacare would save billions of dollars. My friend refers to the details, including working out what is covered in the formulary, whether it will be a single-payer system or a stand-alone federal system, and what the federal-provincial cost sharing details will be. He is absolutely right that those details need to be worked out. How do those details get worked out, except at a federal-provincial table?

This really amounts to another statement by the current government to the effect that it has convinced Canadians it is progressive by talking a good line, but never actually doing anything. We are not going to get pharmacare in this country unless the federal government shows leadership and calls on the provinces to sit down and roll up their sleeves and start talking about it.

While the government dithers and delays because it is a little complex, what does my hon. colleague say to those Canadians right now whose lives are being shortened in some cases and who are dying because they do not get access to pharmaceuticals because they cannot afford them?

Business of Supply October 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his kind words, his speech, and his leadership on the committee. It will come as not surprise to him that I may disagree respectfully with some of his points.

First of all, we have had 20 meetings of witness testimony for our study over the better part of a year and a half, and we have two more meetings to go. We are not halfway through the study, but at the 20th meeting of 22 meetings in the study. We have what can only be described as crystal clear conclusions. We know, and I do not think the government can deny it, that there are millions of Canadians who have no pharmaceutical coverage whatsoever and that their health is deteriorating as a result.

Second, we know that a universal pharmacare system would save billions of dollars. We know this from the report by the PBO and from every other report by academic researchers referred to at committee, which have shown that we would save billions of dollars. We wanted to confirm those other reports by an objective, independent study by the parliamentary budget officer. He tabled that report last week. His conclusions, using conservative assumptions, leaving out cost-saving measures, and using the broadest formulary in the country, Quebec's, were that we would save $4.2 billion.

I do not hear anyone on the government side denying any of that. However, what I hear them saying is that we do not have the details. That is what the motion calls for, for the federal government to sit down with the provinces over the next year to work out those details.

I must say that it was complex to bring in universal health care in this country. We did it in the 1960s. What differences does the member see between that and the federal government's working with the provinces to extend universal coverage to pharmaceuticals? Why is that unconstitutional or complex, when we have already done it with health care generally in this country?

Business of Supply October 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate and thank my hon. colleague for the work she has done in Parliament to advance health policy in this country in a variety of areas.

Canadians know intuitively that a universal public health care system is the best way to deliver health care of all types. That is why we are proud of our Canadian health care system. We know that the U.S. system, which is a patchwork of private-public coverage in which some 20% of Americans are not covered, is simply an inferior system to the one we have, yet that is exactly the kind of system we have when it comes to pharmacare in this country. Twenty per cent of Canadians are not covered, and there is a patchwork of public and private plans.

We know that if we folded pharmacare into the universal program, we would get all the savings of streamlined administration, bulk buying, and exclusive licensing agreements. We would get savings from less cost-related non-adherence, meaning that people who take their medicines stay healthier and actually cost us less than if they go off of their medicines and cost the system more. These are the reasons Canadians know that a public health care system is the cheapest, best, and fairest way to deliver health care.

I am wondering if my hon. colleague can explain why the Liberals and Conservatives do not agree with that when it comes to pharmacare?

Business of Supply October 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that the Liberals have not read the PBO report or the motion. It is clear that the Conservatives have not read the PBO report or simply are blinded to its findings.

Ordinary Canadians are far ahead of the government on this. Sixty-nine per cent of Canadians disagreed with the statement that overall the current system worked well enough and it did not need to be changed. Ninety-one per cent of Canadians supported the concept of a national pharmacare program that would provide universal access to prescription drugs.

What does my hon. colleague think the response of Canadians will be to the Liberal government's voting against a motion calling on it to simply start a discussion with the provinces within a year to begin the process of implementing universal pharmacare, which nine out of 10 Canadians want?