Hon. Michael Ignatieff: Mr. Speaker, today I visited a family in Gatineau. Mike has cancer and his wife Helen is sacrificing everything, including her vacation time, to care for Mike.Why is this government insisting on cutting corporate taxes instead of taking care of families like Mike and Helen?There he went again with one of the all too familiar traits of Harperland. No opportunity is to be missed to take the partisan lunge no matter the topic.
Right Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, today, for the fifth time, the Liberal Party has recycled the promise of additional home care. That is the fifth time. Each time they say they will pay for it by increasing employment insurance premiums and increasing taxes on companies that create jobs. They have never delivered on home care, but they have delivered on tax increases.
Hon. Michael Ignatieff: Mr. Speaker, Mike has been suffering with cancer for five years. Helen has given up all her vacation time to care for him. Does the Prime Minister not understand that when the minister gets up and says that Helen should take more vacation time to look after him, what she fails to understand is that Helen has exhausted all her vacation time and that it is an insult to talk to her this way? Does he understand that he is letting these families down?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, for the fifth time the Liberal Party has recycled the promise of additional home care. The fact is that party will pay for it by raising taxes on those who create jobs, by raising taxes on employers and employees. When it came to the things this government actually did, such as increase EI compassionate care, increase the new horizons program, give income splitting and age credits, the Liberal Party always voted against tax breaks for those families and always voted for tax increases.
Hon. Michael Ignatieff: Mr. Speaker, a Liberal family care plan would provide six months of compassionate care leave. It would provide a tax benefit for families that provide care to families. This could be paid for six times with the corporate tax giveaways to which the Conservative government is committed. Could the government explain these priorities to hard-working families, like Helen and Mike, that are trying to look after each other?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party already spent away a hike in business taxes. The Liberals already spent that over two times last week when they voted for 45-day EI. I wish the Liberal Party would actually get its messages right. I look at this brochure. On page 6, the Liberals talk about health care. On page 4, they promote somebody smoking.
As for some of the cost criticisms of the plan that were trotted out immediately by Conservatives, the savings that such a home care policy could mean for the health care system warrant some attention:
In a ground-breaking study released in May, TD economists found that health care would take up 80 per cent of total government spending by 2030 unless expenses were reined in. None of their recommendations to address spiraling costs touched on homecare, but one of the authors concedes the Liberal policy could have economic merit if it encourages people to care for ailing relatives at home – a growing trend that already saves the health-care system $25-billion a year, according to a 2009 study.Sounds like it could be a worthwhile investment. Besides, there are plenty of choices to make in the here and now that could help pay for a home care policy, yes, the corporate tax cuts and many other usual suspects. The point is to provide Canadians with clear choices and yesterday was a big step in that direction.
And honestly, it's instructive to see the reaction to a Liberal proposal like this. The Conservatives immediately wail away at it being a "reckless" proposal. That's chutzpah when Conservatives can haul out a $16 billion plus commitment to fighter jets on a Friday afternoon, with jet price and budgeting yet to be justified. And elsewhere we are told on those jets, within 24 hours of that government announcement, that's the price of sovereignty people. Well, what's the price of dignity for Canadians struggling with home health care issues? Isn't that a price worth considering paying too?