GARRISON: Pharmacare, housing and environment top priorities for MP in 2018

As the member of parliament for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, I see the impacts of the affordability crisis on my constituents, and I hear their concern that the federal government must do more to protect the environment and respond to the challenges of climate change. In 2018, I will continue to fight for affordability, for environmental protection, and to advocate for Canada taking a lead role in promoting peace and stability around the world. I look forward to fighting for pharmacare, nuclear disarmament, and improved environmental protection in the House of Commons during the spring sitting. Under the leadership of Jagmeet Singh, my New Democrat colleagues and I are working for a Canada where no one is left behind.

Despite portraying themselves as champions for the middle class, the Liberals are likely to continue to advantage their Bay Street friends rather than taking action to address the concerns of the many Canadians who are struggling with the rising cost of living and job insecurity. The Liberals spent most of the fall defending the minister of finance and the prime minister, who were both embroiled in ethics scandals. Meanwhile, many of my constituents are facing an affordability crisis that leaves them unable to find adequate housing or forced to forgo the medicine that they need. I will continue to remind the Liberals that despite a strong economy, many Canadians are falling behind and inequality is on the rise.

On Oct. 5, my colleague Don Davies tabled a motion calling for universal pharmacare, which would have provided necessary prescription drugs for all Canadians and still save the government billions of dollars. On Oct. 17, the Liberals voted against the motion, using their majority to block the NDP’s effort to provide much-needed pharmacare coverage for Canadians.

In 2018, New Democrats will continue to use every means possible to push for pharmacare for Canadians. Too many people across the country are forgoing medicine that they need or having to beg and borrow to be able to buy the medicine that their doctor has prescribed them. This is not acceptable.

Canada is a rare example of a country that has a universal health care system, but no universal pharmacare coverage. Although my New Democrat colleagues and I were disappointed that the Liberals voted against our motion last fall, we will continue to advocate for pharmacare.

The housing crisis is also deeply affecting the communities that I represent. I hear from constituents who are unable to afford housing and many companies are now finding themselves short on workers, as it becomes harder to attract people to our region. I know that homelessness and housing insecurity are the unfortunate reality for too many people in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

Last year, my colleague Rachel Blaney introduced legislation that would have added the right to housing to the Canadian Bill of Rights. The Liberals again used their majority to block this and instead introduced their own housing plan several weeks later. Unfortunately, the Liberal’s housing strategy does very little in the short term, with none of the funding starting until April 2018, while most of the funding will not be provided until after the next election. Additionally, the Liberals used their housing strategy to announce their intention to add housing to the Bill of Rights, which is surprising given that they could have already made this change, had they supported the NDP’s bill.

This fall, my New Democrat colleagues and I have continued our opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, particularly when Kinder Morgan requested permission to overrule the City of Burnaby when the City denied them permits to build a tunnel in late 2017. I will continue to stand with the majority of my constituents in their opposition to this pipeline and the tanker traffic that it would send through our waters.

Finally, with the nuclear sabre rattling by both the U.S. and North Korea over the holidays, it has become clear that someone needs to step up and provide leadership in doing away with nuclear weapons. Any use of nuclear weapons now would be a catastrophe not just for the immediate victims, but for the entire world. If, as the Liberals like to say, Canada is back on the international scene, we should immediately sign the nuclear prohibition treaty and, by doing so, take the lead in efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. I look forward to continuing to work for increased affordability, peace and stability, and environmental protections for the people of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke in 2018.

-Randall Garrison is the MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke

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