In Debate: C-47 "Sustaining Economic Recovery"

Mathyssen Questions Impact of Misguided Economic Policy on Seniors and Veterans

Ms. Chris Charlton:(Hamilton-Mountain) Mr. Speaker, if governments had theme songs, the Conservative government's theme song would be Takin' Care of Business, because the HST surely only benefits the biggest corporations.

The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley talked about the negative impact on hard-working families, and he is absolutely right. Families that are already trying to make ends meets, whose budgets are already stretched beyond belief, cannot possibly pay for the additional HST on basics such as home heating, hair cuts, recreation fees and arena rentals.

However, it is not just families that are hurting. Small businesses, and we do not talk about those nearly enough in the House, are also negatively impacted by the HST. The government says that it is all about helping big business, but what about the real engine of the Canadian economy? Those are small businesses.

Think about the people who are providing taxi services, who are running restaurants, who are providing services such as cleaning services to offices. All those folks now have to charge the HST and all those restaurants have to charge the HST to people whose budgets are already stretched.

The government's priorities are completely misguided, and I thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for pointing that out so eloquently.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is very important to have a quick review of who receives and who does not.

As we approach Remembrance Week, I am struck by the fact that there is a great deal of lip service given to support for veterans, who are also seniors. I was struck by the member's comments in terms of the cost of prescription drugs. We know that seniors are, by and large, the greatest consumers of prescription drugs. What solution does she see for the high cost of that?

Ms. Chris Charlton:
Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no doubt on this side of the House that what Canada desperately needs is a universal pharmacare program. I spoke about that a bit in my speech, and I would be happy to go on at length. I do though want to get to her other comments about veterans.

One of the national disgraces, frankly, for all of us should be the fact that at the end of this week, on November 6, veterans will take to the streets. They are protesting at members of Parliament's offices because of the abysmal treatment they are getting from the Conservative government. The government pays lip service to the great job that our troops are doing, both past and present. However, when it comes to respecting the soldiers who have come home, who have served their country with dignity and courage, nobody is there to help them, first to readjust but second to deal fundamentally with the most important health issues they are likely ever to face in their lives.

Veterans are now taking to the streets and protesting, and that is fundamentally wrong. In this week, as we lead up to Remembrance Day, I hope the Conservative government will rethink its strategies with respect to paying respect to veterans and do it not just with lip service, but actually put programs in place to give meaningful support to all of Canada's veterans.