Last week, the House rose for the summer, and I’m delighted to be back in the South Okanagan – West Kootenay sunshine to reflect on the busy legislative session we’ve had so far in 2023.
Every moment of this session, I’ve worked hard with my colleagues in Parliament to make life better for Canadians. New Democrats have used their power in a minority Parliament to push for supports Canadians need.
There have been many wins as my colleagues and I punch well above the weight of our 25-member NDP caucus to keep the government accountable and propose legislation that puts people first.
The most significant of these measures in the last session was securing dental coverage for children under 18, seniors and people living with a disability.
We forced the government to introduce the Early Learning Child Care Act and a Sustainable Jobs Act to ensure workers have access to affordable childcare and good-paying union jobs as we move toward a net-zero economy. We also secured anti-scab legislation to prohibit replacement workers during a strike or lockout in federally regulated sectors.
We delivered a second GST rebate that will put almost $500 into the pockets of lower-income Canadians this summer. We fought against grocery greed-flation that is straining your family’s budget, and we delivered much-needed funding for Indigenous housing across the country. We fought for and improved the Canada Disability Act, a long-overdue step in the right direction to do the work to lift people living with a disability out of poverty once and for all.
We recently tabled an NDP bill to create a framework for a universal public pharmacare program that would provide free medication for all, and I’m confident we can pressure the government to act on that before the end of the year.
I am proud to share that during this session, I have had several successful interventions that begin to tackle the climate crisis we face. It’s not often Parliament passes a private members’ bill that creates jobs, tackles climate change, adds value to natural resources and helps get around illegal foreign trade tariffs. But that’s exactly what my private members bill, to encourage the use of environmentally sustainable building materials, does.
That bill has been supported unanimously so far and will come up for a final vote in September to become law.
I’ve also brought forward the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights, a bill that would enshrine in legislation the right for all Canadians to live in a healthy and environmentally sustainable environment. That is in debate right now, which will continue in the fall.
When Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario were overwhelmed with early season wildfires, I successfully called for an emergency debate to address the seriousness of this season’s wildfires and the need to re-evaluate the federal role in wildfire protection and response. I am continuing to work with wildfire experts to further this discussion to ensure that we have the systems and tools to tackle these catastrophic fires that will be part of our summers for decades to come.
Many Canadians are still struggling with the sky-high prices of groceries, unaffordable rent and mortgages that have increased by hundreds of dollars almost overnight. This is unacceptable.
Canadians need a government that works for them and their families not just the ultra-wealthy at the very top. Liberals and Conservatives are still ignoring the corporate greed of rich CEOs that are driving up costs for hardworking people. And New Democrats will keep fighting to change that. We’ve always believed we could achieve a national childcare, dental care and pharmacare program. We’ve always said we could achieve these wins while providing good jobs and protecting our planet. We’re making it happen.
This summer, I look forward to travelling throughout the region to discuss the issues that matter most to you and ensure we are proposing solid solutions that will make a difference.
This week we’ll be celebrating Canada Day, so I hope all of you can climb a mountain, lay on a beach or simply raise a glass to recognize the beautiful country we live in.
Let’s keep it beautiful and make sure that it remains a fair and prosperous country.
Richard Cannings is the NDP MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.