On February 5, 2020, I followed up on a question I had asked in Question Period on January 27th:
"Madam Speaker, Canadians sent a clear message to the government in November of 2019. They wanted the government to work across parties in the best interests of Canadians.
On December 9, 2019, the Minister of Finance announced his proposal to change the tax system for people making $140,000 or less. If the government proceeds with the changes as announced, it would cost Canadians a staggering $6 billion annually, yet 47% of Canadians will receive no benefit whatsoever from this tax change. Many of the people who will be left out are those who live in poverty and are in the greatest need.
New Democrats believe that there are better ways to invest these funds to get help to families who urgently need it, and we are proposing an alternative. If this tax cut were capped so that all benefits would go to those earning less than $90,000 a year, it would free up $1.6 billion from the government's projected cost to invest in other priorities, such as dental care.
According to estimates prepared by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, providing dental coverage for uninsured families making less than $90,000 would cost $1.8 billion in the first year and approximately $830 million per year for every year after that. This program would give immediate help to 4.3 million people and save our health care system tens of millions of dollars every year.
Almost 20% of Canadians avoid the dentist every year because of the cost, and emergency room visits due to dental emergencies cost taxpayers at least $155 million annually. Often, these visits do not address underlying dental issues and are followed by return visits and ongoing pressures on our health care system. Also, I have met seniors who told me that they have had to blend their solid foods into liquid because they are unable to chew the food properly.
The program the NDP is proposing would save households at least $1,200 annually and still allow the government to push forward the proposed tax cut to families earning less than $90,000 a year. We believe that this is a constructive proposal that would make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of Canadians, particularly the people who are in greatest need.
The government's intention was to have Parliament vote on its proposed tax changes on December 11, 2019, before Parliament adjourned for the holiday season. That vote was deferred after the NDP proposed the changes to it. New Democrats are still waiting for a response from the government on our proposal. We are encouraged by the mention of dental care in the throne speech as an idea to explore, and this proposal is a great opportunity to give meaning and action to those words and demonstrate a real commitment to helping Canadians who need relief now.
It is a chance for the Liberals to show Canadians that they are willing to work with the opposition in a minority government to deliver much-needed services to Canadians.
My question to the government is this: Will it be willing to work with the NDP to deliver dental services to seniors, children and families making $90,000 or less?"