HANSARD: Comment on the Conservatives voted against the NDP’s push to get dental services to everyday Canadians

Cost of Living Relief Act, No. 2
Government Orders
October 3rd, 2022 / 12:30 p.m.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, the member is trying to interrupt my speech with a false point of order, but that does not change the fact that the Conservatives are on the side of wealthy CEOs. It does not change the fact that they are not on the side of everyday people who need access to dental care. They are not on the side of children who face tooth decay and cannot access dental care because their families cannot afford it. 

In fact, tooth decay is the number one reason children miss school. The highest number of surgeries children face are for tooth decay, and it is not just pain they have to endure. Oral health has huge implications, long-term health implications, and this means we need to treat things early on. However, the Conservatives are not there for them.

The Conservatives voted against the NDP's push to get dental services to everyday Canadians last year, not once but twice. I might add that the Liberals joined them last year and voted against the NDP plan, not once but twice. It was because of 25 New Democrats in the House that we were able to force the government to take action. That is why we have this bill before us today. That is why Canadians who cannot afford access to dental care and who do not have dental services are going to get some help starting this year. That is why children under 12 in low-income families that are eligible will be able to get some support this year. 

That is why next year, seniors and people with disabilities will be able to get access to dental services. I have met seniors in my riding and across the province and the country who have told me devastating stories of how they cannot eat because they do not have proper oral health and do not have teeth. Can anyone imagine seniors in their seventies or eighties having to blend their food as though they were infants because they cannot chew their food as they do not have proper teeth? Who in the House would say no to those seniors accessing dental support? That is what is coming next year. The Conservatives are saying no to children this year. Next year, are they going to say no to seniors who need dental care? Are they going to say no to people with disabilities who need dental care? I hope not. 

I hope the new leader will wake up, stand on the side of people and stop saying we cannot afford it. What we cannot afford is to continue to allow wealthy CEOs to get their fat bonuses. What we cannot afford is allowing this situation to continue when big corporations have huge windfalls in profit during a pandemic period. We need to put in an excessive profit tax to support these kinds of programs and to support people. 

The Conservatives will say that they are there for people on housing. We just heard them talk about how they have this great plan. Really? They talk about a plan, yet they do not talk about the need for affordability. That is where people are at. It is not just any supply. It is not about luxury condos. It is about people who are paying 30% or more of their total incomes for their housing costs. One in five Canadians is in that situation right now and needs help right now.

It was the Conservatives under the Mulroney government and then the Liberals under the Chrétien government who axed housing programs. In fact, the Liberals outright cancelled the national affordable housing program in 1993. That is why we have a housing crisis before us. The $500 housing subsidy is a small measure and a good gesture. It is something the NDP was able to force the government to take action on, and I am glad about that, but more needs to be done. Make no mistake about that.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberals need to support the NDP's push to ensure that real estate investment trusts stop getting the tax benefits they are enjoying. We need to stop the financialization of housing. We need to stop treating housing as a stock market. We need to make sure that housing is there for people as a basic human right. That is what we need to do.

We need to make sure that the government stops helping big corporations make more and more money. These investors are making more money and getting a tax benefit from it without a return to the people. That is what we have to do and that is what we have to talk about. The Conservatives are so petty that they even say low-income individuals and families should not even get a one-time $500 housing benefit at this time of unprecedented inflation. Who does that?

Look at what is going on in the streets. In my riding of Vancouver East, we have people who are homeless and living in tents. They need help and support and they need it now. Let us focus on the needs of the people and put them ahead of wealthy corporations and wealthy CEOs. Let us make sure they get the help they need.

The New Democrats will continue to push for more and fight for more.

Kody Blois Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, I have two quick questions.

No one on this side disagrees with the propensity and need to help provide dental care for those who are the most vulnerable, but the NDP position seems really focused on a federally administered program. We know that health care is a provincial domain. We know that many organizations and programs are run out of provincial health co-operation. Why does the NDP want this to absolutely be a federally administered program, beyond the obvious choices of indigenous communities and military families?

The second piece is on CEOs. It is very clear the NDP is concerned about corporate profits. The leader of the NDP has almost made it seem as though CEOs are rigging the system. Does she believe that all corporate leaders in this country are rigging the system or are there some in particular? I worry about that broad characterization of all corporate leaders in this country.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, on the delivery of health care, it is a shared jurisdictional issue. Under the Canada Health Act, this should be afforded to all Canadians.

On the dental health care plan that the NDP is pushing forward, it was something that Tommy Douglas dreamt of 60 years ago. We are trying to complete that dream with this. We want it delivered, and the federal government can and should deliver the service. At the same time, it should also increase transfer payments. That is what it must do to ensure the delivery of cohesive health care services for all Canadians.

On the second question around bonuses for wealthy CEOs and big corporations, it is time for them to pay their share. That is why we are calling for an excessive profiteering tax, which the UN Secretary-General is calling for across the globe.

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, last week, I gave a speech about Bill C‑31 in which I said that it does provide some relief.

What does my colleague like about the proposed temporary solution to the dental care issue? Quebec has tackled it, and all the provinces really need to do likewise.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, as I indicated earlier, the delivery of health care is a shared jurisdictional issue. This is the first step. This is not the only step. This is the bottom and not the ceiling. We will continue to take action to force the government to deliver support to Canadians. That is what we are doing here. Without us, they would not even get this dental care service for those 12 and under, and then next year for seniors, people with disabilities and people 18 and under. They would not get this one-time housing benefit.

We will continue to push the government to act. We will demand action and force the government to provide support to Canadians.

Mike Morrice Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to start by saying how much I appreciate the member for Vancouver East for her advocacy in addressing the root causes of the housing crisis. I wonder if she could share a bit more specifically with respect to corporate investors and the extent to which there is preferential tax treatment for them, as they are gutting out the core affordable housing supply, which we so desperately need.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, what we are seeing in the housing crisis is this: We are losing housing stock faster than we can build it.

The reality is that wealthy investors are coming in and buying up the stock, and in that process, under the real estate investment trusts, for example, they get preferential tax treatment. They do not have to pay taxes at the corporate rate, so these investors are getting a windfall, and we have to stop that practice. 

Housing should not be treated as a commodity. It should be ensured that it will be there to house people. That is why the NDP is calling for the government to put a moratorium on the financialization of housing, support non-profits to get into the market to buy the stock and stop the preferential tax treatment.

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HANSARD: Foreign Interference and Alleged Reputational Harm to Members of Parliament

Outside this chamber, just yesterday, there were individuals shouting, questioning and jeering about who the traitors may be. Members of Parliament had to walk past these individuals on the members' way to the House to do their work. I believe we must find a way to disclose which MPs are knowingly, intentionally, wittingly or semi-wittingly engaging with foreign states or their proxies to undermine Canada's democratic processes and institutions. I believe this can be done in a way that does not compromise national security.

If there are no consequences for MPs who knowingly help foreign governments act against Canadian interests, we will continue to be an easy target. This will further erode the trust and faith Canadians have in our democratic processes. If allowed to continue, it will further impugn the integrity of the House. Revealing any member of Parliament, former or present, who is a willing participant in foreign interference activities would have the effect of deterring this kind of behaviour. Moreover, it would send a clear message to those foreign states that this cannot continue and that they will not be able to continue to use parliamentarians in this way. This will further reassure the public of the integrity of the House.

I strongly believe that the House should refer the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee. A possible way to deal with the issue would be for committee members to undergo the necessary security screening to examine the unredacted report and look into the allegations about parliamentarians who were “‘witting or semi-witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.” We could allow the named parliamentarians to be informed and to come before the committee as witnesses; we could then explore options on how to disclose the named parliamentarians without compromising national security or police investigations of the matter.

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