Madam Speaker, it has been just over a year since the previous federal election, and I think we would all agree it has been a tremendous year for all of us in this House. Twelve months ago, many felt the momentum building throughout the country. We were confident in our vision for Canada, and, as it turns out, so were Canadians.
In this past year, especially as a first-time MP, I have been thrilled to be working on behalf of Canadians, helping to impact their lives for the better. It is a pleasure for me to rise in this chamber and speak about the investments that the Government of Canada will be making to keep Canada and its people strong and growing for the long term.
Canada is one of the first countries in the world to put into practice the idea that when you have an economy that works for the middle class, you have a country that works for everyone.
In the last year we took some important steps towards helping families regain the confidence they will need to drive our economy forward. We cut taxes for close to nine million Canadians, and we introduced the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of nine out of ten families with children.
We increased Canada student grants for students from low- and middle-income families and for part-time students. We increased monthly payments for the most vulnerable seniors. We signed an agreement with the provinces to enhance the Canada pension plan to provide young people and future generations of workers with a stable, dignified retirement.
We have also begun making unprecedented investments that will help the middle class grow and prosper today, while delivering economic growth for years to come.
We will continue to build on this momentum.
This second budget implementation act proposes items that will complete the implementation of outstanding measures from the Government of Canada's first budget, growing the middle class.
As a government, we are particularly proud of our first budget. This is a budget that puts people and family first. It introduces investments that take an essential step to growing the middle class. It is the first step of a long-term plan to restore hope and revitalize the economy for the benefit of all Canadians. This is a budget and a plan that is not only resonating with Canadians, but is gathering international praise around the world as well.
The Financial Times called Canada's approach a glimmer of light. The Wall Street Journal called our “the poster child” for the International Monetary Fund's global growth strategy. Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, praised our approach as well. At the recent IMF annual meetings, Madame Lagarde said, “Look at Canada.... They're using all possible levers to move the needle towards positive and more growth”. That is what all countries can do.”
Our budget earned these endorsements. I firmly believe that we as a government are focused on exactly the right things: on people, and on growing the economy for the long term in a way that will benefit all Canadians.
The bill before us today, , completes the implementation of the measures we introduced in budget 2016. It provides additional assistance to the people who are the heart of our economy, Canada's middle class.
The bill we are debating today will help foster a strong Canadian economy and will enable Canadians in the middle class and those working hard to join it to keep more of their money to save, invest, and ensure economic growth.
This bill includes measures that will help families, give seniors a little more flexibility, protect consumers, and improve the quality and integrity of our country's tax system.
One of the cornerstones of our plan to strengthen the middle class is also a cornerstone of our first budget. In budget 2016, we introduced the new Canada child benefit. This benefit will help parents better support what is most precious to them, their children.
The Canada child benefit is simpler and more generous than the benefits it is replacing. It is also tax free and better targeted to help those who need it most in our society.
The Canada child benefit will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty in Canada. That is because since the benefit was first rolled out in July, nine out of ten families are now receiving more money than they did under the previous system.
Whether that extra money is being used to buy school supplies, groceries, or warm coats for the winter, the Canada child benefit will help parents cover the growing cost of raising their children.
Let me explain how this benefit will help Canadian families. Parents of children under 18 will receive a maximum annual benefit of $6,400 per child under six and $5,400 per child aged six through 17.
Supporting this budget implementation bill will help ensure that the Canada child benefit will be indexed to inflation, so that families can count on this extra assistance today and for years to come.
This budget implementation act would also support seniors by helping them to retire in more comfort and with dignity. Canada's retirement income system has been successful in reducing the incidence of poverty among Canadian seniors. However, some seniors continue to be at heightened risk of living with low income. In particular, single seniors are nearly three times more likely to live with low incomes than seniors generally. Budget 2016 would help seniors retire comfortably and with dignity by making significant new investments that support them in their retirement years.
In budget 2016, we repealed the provision of the Old Age Security Act that increased the age of eligibility for old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits from 65 to 67 years of age and allowance benefits from 60 to 62 over the 2023 to 2029 period. Restoring the eligibility age for old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits to 65 will put thousands of dollars back into the pockets of Canadians as they become seniors and look to retire. That is the right thing to do.
Budget 2016 also increased the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for the most vulnerable single seniors, starting in July 2016. This is helping those seniors who rely almost exclusively on old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits, and may therefore be at risk of experiencing financial difficulties.
These enhancements more than double the current maximum guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit and represent a 10% increase in the total maximum guaranteed income supplement benefits available to the lowest income single seniors in our country. This measure represents an investment of over $670 million per year and will improve the financial security of about 900,000 single seniors across our nation.
In this second budget implementation bill, we are delivering on the promise we made in budget 2016 to support senior couples who face higher costs of living and are at an increased risk of poverty because they must live apart.
This second budget implementation bill amends the Old Age Security Act in order to make the program more flexible. When couples who are receiving the guaranteed income supplement and the spouse's allowance have to live apart for reasons beyond their control, each of them will receive benefits based on their individual income.
By extending this treatment to couples receiving the guaranteed income supplement and spouse's allowance, the government is improving fairness for seniors and helping them live with the dignity they deserve and need in retirement.
Canadians deserve financial consumer protection that keeps pace with people's needs. In line with this, budget 2016 contains plans to strengthen and modernize the financial consumer protection framework.
would amend the Bank Act in order to strengthen and modernize the financial consumer protection framework in our country. The financial sector plays an important role in supporting economic growth in this nation. Each day, the nation's financial institutions support the financial needs of consumers and large and small businesses, and enable payments and transactions. They form the infrastructure of our market system.
Canada's financial sector weathered the 2008 financial crisis well. We are seeking to build on this strength. We want to make sure that the financial sector is able to adapt to new trends, including emerging financial innovation and technologies that will challenge existing business models, evolving consumer preferences and customer relationships, changing demographics, and continuing globalization.
Budget 2016 proposes to modernize the financial consumer protection framework by clarifying and enhancing consumer protection in the Bank Act, and working with stakeholders to support the implementation of the framework. This legislation proposes to consolidate and streamline existing consumer provisions into one chapter of the Bank Act, and introduce amendments to the Bank Act to enhance consumer protection in the areas of access to basic banking services' business practices, disclosure, complaints handling, as well as corporate governance and accountability.
The federal government is showing leadership by implementing targeted measures to better protect consumers of financial products and services in Canada. These measures include improving access to basic banking services, setting limits on certain business practices, and improving disclosure of information to make it easier for consumers to make informed choices. These reforms reiterate the federal government's intent to have a system of exclusive consumer protection rules to ensure an efficient national banking system across the country.
Fairness is one of Canadians' fundamental values. That is why the government of Canada committed to implement an action plan to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance that contains new measures and builds on the efforts that are currently being made both here in Canada and abroad. This work will help protect the tax base and boost Canadians' confidence in the fairness of a system that ensures that everyone pays their fair share of the tax burden.
As part of an international effort to combat tax evasion, budget 2016 confirms the government's intention to implement the common reporting standard developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD. Under the common reporting standard, Canadian financial institutions will be expected to have procedures in place to identify accounts held by non-residents and to report information on those accounts to the Canada Revenue Agency.
Tax administrations in foreign jurisdictions will likewise collect information from their financial institutions about accounts held by residents of other countries, including Canada. The CRA will formalize exchange arrangements with foreign jurisdictions, having verified that each jurisdiction has appropriate capacity and safeguards in place. Then the financial account information will begin to be exchanged on a reciprocal bilateral basis.
The introduction of the common reporting standard is an important global development, which will help enhance tax compliance and eliminate opportunities for tax evasion in our country. Canada intends to implement the standard consistent with our commitment to the G-20 and similar commitments by more than 100 other jurisdictions.
The budget also announced plans to implement a new requirement for country-by-country reporting. This is an initiative agreed to under the G20/0ECD project to address tax avoidance by multinational enterprises through base erosion and profit shifting.
Under these new rules, large multinational enterprises will be required to file information with tax authorities providing a high-level profile of their activities in each jurisdiction in which they operate. These reports will enhance transparency and assist tax administrations in performing effective risk assessments.
Going forward, Canada will continue to work with the international community to ensure a coherent and consistent response to tax avoidance. In addition to these new legislative tools, budget 2016 also announced $444 million in new resources for the Canada Revenue Agency to address offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
In conclusion, budget 2016 represents a giant step forward in our plan to put people first and to deliver the help they need now while investing for the years and decades to come. With these investments, and inspired by a sense of fairness, we are ensuring that Canada's best days lie ahead. Our plan is about creating the necessary conditions to ensure that hope and hard work will not be wasted but will be rewarded in this country where our children and our grandchildren can flourish.
The Government of Canada is focused on the larger picture of ensuring prosperity for Canadians well beyond its 150th birthday. I therefore encourage all members in the House to support the bill. This is right for Canada. This is right for families. This is right for the middle class.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased and honoured, but also humbled, to speak on behalf of all my official opposition colleagues and on behalf of all Canadians who were literally duped by the Liberal Party a year ago.
The Liberal Party promised heaven and earth, but it is breaking its promises. Worse yet, we see that the billions of dollars invested, supposedly in development, is not working. The Liberal plan is not working and we can prove it.
We are gathered this morning to talk about Bill which, in a way, is the second budget implementation bill. The people watching us this morning need to understand that the budget was tabled, voted on, and passed. However, two bills are being enacted to implement the budget.
What we are seeing is that all the government's budget measures are not working. When we left office a year ago, we left the House in order. This week, the parliamentary budget officer confirmed what we knew, and what Canadians suspected, namely that we left a $2.9-billion surplus. That was a good thing. In fact, a $2.9-billion surplus is responsible, realistic, conservative, and Canadian. We will come back to the current situation later.
We left Canadians the lowest tax burden in 50 years. Canadians had never before paid so little in taxes as under the Conservative government one year ago. That was the mindset that we left Canadians. That was the economic situation that we left Canadians. The major difference is that we believe that Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses, not government, create jobs. Our Conservative policies created 200,000 jobs during our last term of office. A $2.9-billion surplus, the lowest tax burden in 50 years, and 200,000 jobs created by private enterprise, all made possible by Conservative policies. That was the situation one year ago.
Where are we one year later? The Bank of Canada, the parliamentary budget officer, the International Monetary Fund, and the OECD confirm that the Liberal government's economic forecasts must be downgraded. Although we had excellent momentum a year ago, today all economic observers agree that the Liberal plan is not working and that the economic forecasts must be downgraded.
Everyone can see that the employment statistics are worrisome. The Liberal government's measures were supposed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but we have not seen any results. Not only is the unemployment rate stable at 7%, but now we are learning that tens of thousands of jobs are being lost, and the , pleased as punch, is telling Canadians that they will have to get used to part-time work. How inspiring. Way to encourage people to do more and promote job creation. It is not inspiring at all and it is so typical of the Liberals.
Let us now look at the backbone of government management: deficits and surpluses. Need I remind members that our government left a $2.9-billion surplus? This is not the first time I have said it, and I can tell my colleagues right now that this is not the last time they will hear me say it either.
Today, we have a deficit of tens of billions of dollars. I would remind members that, on page 76 of the Liberal election platform, it reads:
...the federal government will have a modest...deficit of...$10 billion...
The deficit will shrink, and after four years, it will magically be transformed into a surplus. That is the Liberal promise. The reality is that the Liberal Party brought in a budget that spells out a $30-billion deficit. In fact, two weeks ago, TD Canada Trust said that the deficit could be as much as $34 billion. On October 19, to celebrate his first year in power, the of Canada was interviewed on TVA, and he said that he did not know how the whole deficit thing was going to turn out. Great. Just great.
Should such an amateurish response come as any surprise? Is this not the same member for , , and Liberal Party leader who, in an interview two years ago, said that budgets balance themselves? Right. If, according to his economic theory, budgets balance themselves, then he can promise a $10-billion deficit that is really a $30-billion deficit, or how about a $34-billion deficit or who knows how many billions exactly.
That is classic Liberal Party, and it is totally unacceptable. The Liberal government keeps talking about how wonderful everything is because it has the most ambitious infrastructure plan in Canadian history. On our watch, the hon. member for , as Minister of Economic Development, headed a department managing an $80-billion infrastructure investment program. At the time, that was the most ambitious program in Canadian history. The difference is that we did it by creating a budget surplus, not a Liberal-style deficit.
The Liberals promised billions. They said that a growing deficit is not a problem and it is all good. It is not all good. Such a huge deficit is irresponsible because it is deferred taxation; we are forcing our children and grandchildren to pay the bill.
Let us look at what I like to call this government's grand gestures. As I said earlier, this government is not creating jobs; private enterprise is what is creating them. We therefore need to give businesses the tools they need to create jobs. We in the Conservative Party believe that the real job creators, the real backbone of the Canadian economy, are small and medium-sized businesses. They are the real wealth creators, and yet, these Liberal measures work against them.
Was the Liberal carbon tax included in their platform? No. Also, we have not seen the corporate tax cuts those folks over there promised.
The following is written on page 80: “As we reduce the small business tax rate to 9 percent from 11 percent”. That is not true; they are not doing that. They are keeping taxes high and even increasing CPP contributions. This is going to cost Canadian workers $1,000 more per year, and cost businesses $1,000 more per employee every year. That is $2,000 less for the economy and $2,000 more in government coffers for the pension plan. It is unacceptable.
Let us now take a look at exactly how this government is managing its much-touted program to help children, the Canada child benefit.
They said they were going to abolish the three programs our government put in place to really help families, namely the universal child care benefit, the Canada child tax benefit, and the national child benefit supplement. We had fashioned three programs to meet the needs of all Canadian families. However, in its boundless wisdom, the government said those programs needed to go. It says it is going to reinvent the wheel and that it is going to come up with the best program that Canada has ever seen. That is pretty much what it said.
However, the reality is that this government promised to make changes at no cost, but that was a mistake. This is going to put us $3.4 billion in the hole. It is wishful thinking by the Liberals: give people money, help them, and stimulate the economy. That is nice, but it is wishful thinking. Someone has to pay for all this at some point. Those people were elected on a promise to implement a program at no cost. It has not worked out that way. We are $3.4 billion in the hole.
An hon. member: A year.
Mr. Gérard Deltell: Yes, my colleague is right, Madam Speaker. I thank him.
This year, it is going to cost an extra $3.4 billion and next year it will cost an extra $4.3 billion. What a farce, to put it mildly.
All of a sudden, these people realized that they forgot to index the program, and they are shocked. They forgot one small detail, however: if the program isn't indexed, people will have less money in their pockets than they did under the Conservative government. The worst part about it is that it was not even included in their platform.
I do not want to lecture anyone, but the facts speak for themselves. When managing their personal budgets, would any executives think that their groceries would cost the same in five years as they do now? No, and I do not think so either.
Are there any Canadians who believe that there is no indexing or inflation? No, there are not, aside from these fine people who are before us today. Their management approach is hard on the Canadian economy. It is us and our children who will have to pay for this bad management. Even though we are dealing with basics, the ABC's or one plus one equals two, the Liberals forgot to index.
Thank goodness for our Senate colleague, the hon. Larry Smith. I would like to pay tribute to him. I would add that he is a Conservative senator. This is a small detail, but I do not forget details. The senator asked the parliamentary budget officer some very specific questions and, as a result, last May the parliamentary budget officer showed that the Liberals had forgotten to index the program and that, if it were indexed, it would cost twice as much, which is no laughing matter.
When the parliamentary budget officer announced that the Liberals had forgotten to index the program, the government came up with an indexing measure on the fly to ensure that this program will cost $42.4 billion in total, and that number is from the report of the parliamentary budget officer. The Liberals only made a small mistake.
I know that I cannot pull out documents here. However, if I could, members would clearly see the inflationary curve that the government forgot about and which means that Canadians will have to pay tens of thousands of dollars more.
I have listened to the fine speeches by government members who have said that they are thinking of the children and families, that they want to help the poorest among us and do this in a balanced way. No, the Liberals completely forgot about indexation and inflation and, even worse, they are going to make our grandchildren pay for that. That is the irony of the situation.
The members over there gloat about their lofty principles and say they want to help families and children. Of course they want to help the children: they want them to pay the bill when it is their turn to work. That is neither responsible nor realistic. That is not the right approach in our opinion.
That is why when we were in power, when we were implementing these programs, we were also balancing the budget. That is the realistic and responsible way to effect change.
About their tax changes, those guys make such a big deal about leaving more money in people's pockets and cutting taxes. Hang on just a second. Once again, thanks to the hon. Larry Smith, the parliamentary budget officer meticulously analyzed the new tax measures. On page 1, he says, “PBO estimates this amount to be $1.8 billion in 2016”. That is the additional amount the government has to pay. In other words, a measure that was supposed to be revenue-neutral is going to cost $1.8 billion.
They talk about how we need to think of the poorest members of society, but this does not make sense. The new tax brackets mean that there will be no impact whatsoever for people earning $45,000 or less. I would like to remind the House that the average salary in this country is $32,000, so this will change nothing for more than half of all Canadians.
Who is really going to benefit from the new Liberal tax changes? Those who earn between $140,000 and $199,999. I will acknowledge my conflict of interest up front, because I, like all members of the House of Commons, am in that tax bracket.
Where is the supposed sense of fairness and generosity towards the most vulnerable among us? It does not exist in this new change. Sixty-five per cent of Canadians will see no change. It is going to cost Canadians $1.8 billion more, and those who will benefit the most are those who earn between $140,000 and $200,000. It completely flies in the face of what they are claiming. The facts are there, and it is not the nasty Conservatives who are saying this, but the parliamentary budget officer, who was responding to a question from Senator Larry Smith. It is important to know this, and to inform and remind Canadians.
We already had an opportunity to talk about the changes the government is proposing to the Canada pension plan through Bill . Basically, the reality is that the government wants to increase taxes on workers from 9.9% to 11.9%, which is a 2% increase. In concrete terms, this means $1,000 less in the pockets of each Canadian worker, and for businesses, $1,000 more that every company has to pay for each employee. Overall, it means $2,000 for every worker.
Every Canadian who gets up in the morning and goes to work will have $1,000 less, and it is going to take 40 years before it produces any results.
What is the actual impact of this measure on the economy? If we look at employment, GDP, private investment, disposable income, and private savings, all these economic indicators of real growth have been downgraded. At committee hearings, I posed questions to representatives of the Canadian Gas Association, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, and even the C.D. Howe Institute. They all said that the proposed changes to the Canada pension plan would negatively impact the Canadian economy and that it could take at least 40 years before there would even be a semblance of balance. That is bad for the economy and it is not the way to go.
We moved forward with our proposal and created the TFSA, a savings plan. We believe that instead of picking people's pockets, the government should give people the tools they need so they can choose how to best save. That approach makes good economic sense. That is great vision. There is a difference between our visions: the Liberal government takes money from people's pockets, whereas the Conservative government lets people choose, and provides the tools so that both businesses and individuals can contribute to economic growth.
The government has totally lost control of public spending. I could be here until Monday talking about all of the mistakes it has made, but I will have to stop because I only have about three or four minutes left. Day after day, this government keeps getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar because of its out-of-control spending. Let us remember the minister who paid $7,000 for a photographer in Paris. I have jokingly said, and I will say it again this morning, that she could have followed the 's lead when it comes to photography since he is quite adept at taking selfies and his method does not cost a cent.
Members will also recall that the gave her Liberal friend a contract to drive her around in a limousine. When she was caught red-handed, her friend changed the name of the company to indicate that it provided car services rather than limousine services. The minister apologized and promised to repay the costs, but she should not have to be caught to acknowledge that she made a poor decision and that she should repay the money. Members must make wise choices at all times. I could go on like this for three days, but the point that I am trying to make is that the Liberals have lost control of the public purse. They have also completely lost control of public spending. They were elected on a platform that included a $10-billion deficit, but here we are saddled with a $34-billion deficit, and the is saying that he does not know what is going to happen. It makes no sense.
An hon. member: Where are we going? There is no oversight.
Mr. Gérard Deltell: Madam Speaker, government spending and the deficit are out of control, but the Liberals have decided to impose an additional tax burden by increasing CPP premiums and implementing their carbon tax. Was the Liberal carbon tax part of the Liberal platform? Maybe it was. I read it and reread it. If somehow it was part of the plan, I would ask hon. members to show me where. To my knowledge, it was not planned and now they are imposing it. That is not right. This only goes to show that this government sadly does not know how to count. It simply forgot to factor inflation into its family benefit.
They are poor managers, as well. It is worrisome because under our democracy, which we respect and honour, they will be holding the reins and purse strings of government for the next three years.
We know that the minister is due to table an economic update next week. We hope he will get his act together and grab the bull by the horns and that he will pursue a realistic and responsible approach to management. The government has clearly earned the triple crown of bad management. It has lost control of the deficit and government spending, and it is overtaxing Canadians. That is the triple crown of bad management. The Conservatives had the triple crown of good management and the best economic record of the G7. We are very proud of that. Before concluding, I will move a motion.
I therefore move, seconded by the member for :
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-29, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures, since it proposes to continue with the government’s failed economic policies exemplified by and resulting in, among other things, the current labour market operating at “half the average rate of job creation of the previous five years” as noted in the summary of the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s Report: “Labour Market Assessment 2016”.”