|| That the House take note of the Fall Economic Statement.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table today, in both official languages, the government's fall economic statement.
It gives me great pleasure to update the House on the progress we have made on behalf of Canada's middle class and those working hard to join it. We know that Canadian families are filled with hope and they are not afraid of hard work, including, I might add, our pages. However, for decades now, the middle class has been struggling just to stay afloat. Child care, tuition, the rising cost of living, long commutes, and mounting debt, they all add up.
In the midst of this, the world is changing rapidly. Trade is shifting to Asia and other developing regions. The Internet is transforming how we communicate, live, and work. Economies are facing the challenge of becoming cleaner and more sustainable.
Therefore, a year ago, Canadians asked for our help. They wanted a government that would work with them to secure a brighter future for their kids and for their grandkids.
We took a big first step by cutting taxes for middle-class Canadians and raising them on the wealthiest 1%. Thanks to our Canada child benefit, nine out of 10 families with children get even more help every month. On average, they get $2,300 more per year. It is helping. For hundreds of thousands of children, it means being lifted out of poverty. For some families, it means money to spend on skates this winter. For others, it means paying down debt or saving a little more, and that is progress.
We also improved retirement security for workers today and for future generations, including signing a historic agreement with the provinces to strengthen the Canada pension plan.
We have kept the promises we made to seniors, by strengthening the retirement income system. We restored the age of eligibility for old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits to 65. We also increased the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefits for single seniors.
We made it easier for young people to go to university or college by boosting Canada student grants, and recent grads now get a break on paying back their Canada student loans until they are earning at least $25,000 per year.
We also immediately began investing in our future. The investments we have made in the infrastructure needs of our cities and communities create jobs today, while building up Canada's economy in the future.
I want to thank my colleague, the , for his ongoing leadership in working with provinces and municipalities toward the transformative challenges ahead. He brings a deep understanding of the challenges facing all levels of government in infrastructure development.
Taken together, our measures are creating jobs and helping the middle class to get ahead.
Our economy is growing, just not as fast as we would like. Since the last budget, private sector forecasters have, on average, revised down their outlook for real GDP growth in Canada. This is set against a backdrop of slow growth around the world due to factors such as disappointing growth in the United States and the uncertainty surrounding the U.K.'s Brexit vote.
However, our historic signing of the comprehensive economic and trade agreement, the most modern and progressive trade deal on the planet, shows that even in uncertain times hard work and perseverance can lead to results that will create middle-class jobs.
I want to recognize the passionate and dedicated work of the in getting this agreement over the finish line.
The world is now looking to Canada as an example to follow because of our investments and our inclusive agenda aimed at helping the middle class.
We have the most enviable position of all G7 countries in terms of our debt-to-GDP ratio. We will maintain this advantage and maintain the fiscal anchor that we committed to in the last budget, while continuing our plan responsibly.
Slow growth at home and around the world means our plan is more important than ever. It is time to take the steps toward middle class progress.
Because our challenges and opportunities are long term, I am announcing measures that invest more dollars over a longer period of time, so we can create good jobs now and set our workers, businesses, and communities up for success in the future.
Over the next 11 years, the Government of Canada will invest an additional $81 billion in public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, and in transportation that supports trade and smart cities. This includes a specific commitment to build up and build out Canada's rural and northern communities.
In recognition of unique needs that require a more targeted approach, we are investing an additional $2 billion in our rural communities to ensure they can succeed and share in Canada's overall success.
In all, combined with existing funds, we will invest more than $180 billion over the next 11 years in our towns, our cities, and trade corridors to provide cleaner air and water, better neighbourhoods for our kids, and smarter, more connected communities. This is unprecedented in Canada's history, and it comes at a time when the need is great.
Our communities need to keep people and goods moving. Our most vulnerable citizens need housing. Our kids need and deserve clean air and clean water. Our country needs long-term economic growth.
To solve these challenges, we need to think even bigger. We need reliable partners. Canada's pension funds and institutional investors around the world have world-leading expertise and they are eager to make big, long-term investments in Canada.
I am happy to announce that the Government of Canada is establishing a new Canada infrastructure bank, through which at least $35 billion will flow to help us undertake transformative projects that might not otherwise get built. This bank will allow us to create thousands of jobs, get more projects built, and attract $4 to $5 in private capital for every tax dollar invested. That is progress.
The new infrastructure bank will allow us to identify a pipeline of projects on which we can base our long-term investment decisions. In short, the bank will change how we plan, fund and carry out large infrastructure projects in Canada. That is progress.
To prosper in the future, we will need to hone Canada's competitive edge. Canadians are highly educated and skilled. We have what it takes to succeed. That is the story potential investors do not hear often enough around the world.
I am announcing today the creation of a new institution, the invest in Canada hub, whose job it will be to go out and sell Canada to the world.
In a world in which some think that it is best to close borders, Canada stands out as an example to follow in terms of inclusion and managing diversity.
We have an enviable fiscal position, and an educated, skilled and, in particular, a resourceful population. Investing in Canada will allow us to redouble our efforts to create good jobs for the middle class by attracting foreign investment.
To create good Canadian jobs, we need strong global partnerships. Our global skills strategy will further support Canadian companies by making sure that they can attract top talent and can have timely access to the specific skills and international expertise that will allow them to scale up, create good Canadian jobs, and thrive right here at home.
Thanks to the stellar work of the , Canada is also taking full advantage of our diversity to support long-term economic growth.
Just last week, The Economist magazine remarked about Canada:
|| The warmth of the welcome is as striking as the scale of the intake.
That is progress.
It is not just what we are doing, it is also how we are doing it. We listen, we partner, and we collaborate. Those are not just words. They are at the very core of who we are as a government.
That is why our fall economic statement also contains measures to provide greater accountability for government spending, to put an end to secrecy at the Board of Internal Economy, and to ensure the independence of the chief statistician and the parliamentary budget officer. That is progress.
Decades from now, when my kids tell the story of when their dad was finance minister, I want them to be able to look back and see our government's first year in office as the year Canada began on the path towards a new, modern economy. We are well on our way.
Compared to one year ago, nine million middle-class Canadians pay lower taxes. About 3.2 million families receive the Canada child benefit, which by 2017 will have helped reduce child poverty by about 40%. If there is one number I want Canadians to remember today, it is the 40% reduction in child poverty.
Nine hundred thousand single seniors will be more financially secure.
Fourteen on-reserve boil water advisories have been lifted in indigenous communities since budget 2016.
We have built or improved 2,700 dwellings on reserves. Across the country, infrastructure projects are creating good jobs and also making communities more dynamic.
However, we are not done, not even close. We will continue to do what confident, ambitious countries do: invest in our own future. We will work with others to do it as well.
As members know, the Advisory Council on Economic Growth has provided me with invaluable insights on the challenges and opportunities ahead. I thank them for their great work and advice.
Our work is also informed by all those who have taken time to participate in pre-budget consultations, by our municipal, provincial, and territorial partners, and by international partners.
We also rely on the great work of the finance committees and all members of both Houses of Parliament, who we know wake up every day looking for ways to leave a better Canada to the next generation. I thank them for their service, and I look forward to working with all of them towards a strong middle class and a better tomorrow. Merci.
Mr. Speaker, a year ago, the Liberal Party was elected on a platform of a small deficit, a modest deficit of $10 billion in the first year. That was its promise, and what did it do? It did exactly the reverse.
For a year now, the Canadian economy has been going from bad to worse. No permanent jobs have been created here in Canada since this government came to power, and here is the abandoning his responsibilities, not to mention other things, when he ought to be here responding directly to Canadians’ needs, especially since what they need is a strong economy.
Today we see the government spending without any common sense. It does not have control of its spending. It has devised new taxes that collide head-on with our businesses, that is, our entrepreneurs, our job and wealth creators. What is more, for a year now this government has been cancelling tax reductions that taxpayers had been promised, which were designed to help them make their personal choices with more money in their pockets. On the contrary, however, the government has raised taxes and income taxes. So it has failed in its task.
That is why it is today presenting us with an economic update. This was a perfect opportunity to straighten out the situation and admit that it had tried something that did not work. But the government is doing just the opposite.
This is what is so sad. It is quite normal to see a minister of finance doing an update six or eight months after a budget just to be sure to steer the economy on a good track and with good sense. Unfortunately, the government has failed to take this opportunity to get the Canadian economy back on track for the Canadian people.
The Liberal plan, which consists in borrowing senselessly and creating colossal deficits, is not working. A hundred thousand new jobs had been predicted for 2016, but none have been created. I want to remind the Liberals that there are still two months left before year-end, so they should pick up the pace a little. The opportunity has been missed.
Instead of giving the kick-start needed to get the Canadian economy and management of public finances back on track, the government keeps doing exactly the same thing—hitting the gas and crashing straight into the wall. That is what today’s economic update is from the Liberal government. It is very bad for the Canadian economy and for all Canadians.
As I mentioned earlier in my question, the key figure in this update from the government is $31.8 billion. Let’s round that off to $32 billion. That’s $32 billion in additional expenditures over the next five years that had not been budgeted six months ago. What improvisation, what lack of vision, what lazy management!
It would have been nice if those people realized that managing the public purse and the Canadian government calls for a long-term vision that gives taxpayers' wallets the respect they deserve. Unfortunately, those people keep spending as if it were no big deal. That is what worries me.
The documents they tabled are very interesting, but some essential information is missing. What is the Liberal government's game plan to pay back the $32 billion in additional expenses over the next five years? Will it raise sales and income taxes? Will it place an additional burden on workers who get up every morning and work so hard? Will it place an additional burden on the businesses that create jobs and wealth, as it has been doing for the past year? Not a word about that.
The easy way out, the lazy way out, is to borrow the money and get our grandchildren to pay up. I have a lot of respect for the . Earlier, he ventured onto thin ice when he talked about how proud his children will be down the road. Unfortunately, I have to remind him that his children and grandchildren, along with mine and those of all Canadians, will have to pay for bad Liberal management later. That is the Liberal Party's legacy.
I want to remind everyone that this government was elected on its promise of a modest $10-billion deficit and that it gave us a $30-billion budget. Today's plan offers no strategy for setting things right. That is what really worries us as Conservatives, but it is also what worries us as Canadians, because we are the ones who are going to have to pay for this later.
This economic update does include a few worthy elements, or at least, elements that show us where we are heading. One of those is the government's plan to create an infrastructure bank.
My only question about this new structure is why? Why did the government table and propose a new structure for the Canadian economy? We can earn money from offshore without any difficulty. We can invest public money and private money in infrastructure without any difficulty. We have the tools for the that. We have PPP Canada for that.
Why create a new structure? Why create new red tape? Why create something new? The minister should consider things like that. Is it for friends of the Liberal Party, or whatever? Is that the case? Why create this new infrastructure? We have all the tools we need to attract new money from offshore. Now the Liberals are talking about the Canadian hub. That is not bad, but we still have the tools for that.
Is it true that the government has just discovered that offshore money can be brought into Canada? I have some news for the Liberals. It is not new. They have seen some offshore money come here, and maybe that is a big surprise for them. In the last 150 years this country has had an open market. That is why we welcome foreign money. This country needs to welcome foreign money with open arms to create wealth and jobs here in Canada. We do not need another Liberal government to do that. We still have that.
Here is another funny thing. I had the privilege of reading the books and all of the minister's updates. Maybe I was not aware, but the minister did not talk about the parliamentary budget officer in his budget speech. That is quite interesting because he talked about him in his economic update.
The minister wants to give even more powers to the parliamentary budget officer. I found the following statement on page 34 to be quite ridiculous, to put it mildly: “...the parliamentary budget officer will report back to Parliament and parliamentarians with research and analysis...”
Wow. Big deal.
I would just like to remind our friends that the parliamentary budget officer already prepares reports. The problem is that the Liberals refuse to acknowledge them. Just last week, the member for wanted to table two reports by the parliamentary budget officer that gave Canadians the facts on management of public finances. However, the Liberals refused to allow it to be tabled. They have the right to disagree and to challenge the report, but they refused to table it.
Now they are crowing over their fine principles and say they want to give more powers to the parliamentary budget officer. They should start by showing him respect. That would be a good start.
I can perhaps understand why he would be a little embarrassed to talk about the parliamentary budget officer. This man has very good resources. I should have said “this person”. It just so happens that he is a man, but it has nothing to do with gender. These days we have to be careful. Mr. Speaker, you can count on me to be very careful.
So we have to be very careful when we are talking about the person.
The parliamentary budget officer talked about so many things that the Liberal government has failed to recognize. We are not talking about doing something. We are just talking about recognizing something. The government has failed to recognize the reality of the facts. I will give the House some examples.
Since the minister mentioned the Canada child benefit in his speech, let us talk about that. The Liberals' speeches bring a tear to my eye. They are saying that they are going to help individuals, families, and everyone. However, in their election platform, the Liberals promised to implement this program at no cost. That is not true, because the parliamentary budget officer's report, which the Liberals refused to table, indicates that the Canada child benefit will create a $3.4-billion deficit. They were only off by $3.4 billion. That is what helping families looks like.
However, what is really incredible is that they forgot to index. They simply forgot that, in four or five years, the cost of living might go up. I had the opportunity to talk about this on Friday, but seriously, this does not make any sense. Any lowly administrative technician in any company who forgot to index would immediately be shown the door.
In every business when someone forgets about indexation and inflation, that person would be told to get out, but the minister is still in his chair, even if he forgot about inflation and he missed the target by $3.4 billion.
The Liberals are also talking about revenue-neutral tax changes.
We are not talking about zero cost. We are talking about the deficit of $1.8 billion. This is totally unacceptable. The Liberals were elected in the hope of no deficit. They were elected, in this case, with no surplus. Now, they are talking about $1.8 billion.
The same project, the same plan, does not directly touch 65% of Canadians. Why?
There will not be any changes to the taxes of Canadians who earn $45,282 a year or less. Sixty-five percent of Canadians will not be affected by these tax adjustments. What is worse is that the main beneficiaries of the Liberal's approach are those who earn between $140,388 and $199,999 a year. Are people who earn $190,000 a year part of the middle class? I am not sure, but they are the ones who will benefit the most from this measure.
We did not get these numbers in a Cracker Jack box. The parliamentary budget officer gave them to us. These new measures to create jobs and wealth have done nothing. According to the parliamentary budget officer, no new permanent jobs have been created under this government. I laugh when I hear the Liberals saying that they want to give the parliamentary budget officer more authority and control. Maybe they should start by respecting and accepting the figures he gives them in an neutral and objective manner.
There is absolutely nothing in this update for the hard-working entrepreneurs of Canada. On this side of the House, are concerned about entrepreneurs because they are the backbone of our economy. We pay them a lot of respect, and the government should respect them. These are the people who create wealth. These are the people who create jobs. It is not the government that creates jobs.
The government should give the tools to create jobs to the creators of wealth, the entrepreneurs. It is not the government that is doing that. It is the entrepreneurs.
What do we find in this update today for small business? Absolutely nothing. There is absolutely nothing for those who work so hard, who wake up every morning and risk a lot to create jobs. They risk a lot, and there is nothing for them in this update.
Let us talk about mortgages. A month ago, the , without any notice, introduced new rules for mortgages and a new way to calculate them. It is very difficult. We all recognize there is a problem in Vancouver and Toronto. However, to fix this problem in Vancouver and Toronto, the government is applying new rules from coast to coast to coast.
That is not exactly the way to do things. The reality is that for young families just starting a life, whose dream is to have a house, it will be more difficult thanks to the Liberal government that introduced a new way of doing things without consulting people and without prior notice.
In this unfortunate situation for the Canadian economy, the example comes from on high. When a government gets itself elected on a promise of a small $10-billion deficit and then proudly, shamelessly, signs off on a $30-billion deficit, they may think that it’s party time, they can spend as they wish and there are no more restrictions. This is not a realistic or a responsible way to manage the budget. A deficit is a bill that we pass on to our grandchildren, who are going to have to pay for today’s mismanagement.
Furthermore, Canadians never voted for uncontrolled budgets; Canadians never voted for a government that was going to spend heedlessly; Canadians never voted for a government that was going to run a deficit three times what it predicted and then six months later was going to review that amount so as to heighten the deficit and spending even more. Canadians have been swindled by the Liberal party, and we are now suffering all of the consequences. That is why a radical call to order is needed for this government, which has failed in its job.
Canadians know and believe that the government has lost control over public spending. Canadians can see day after day that this government is not keeping its commitments, that it is spending wildly and leading Canada to a medium- and long-term budget impasse. I want to point out that our children and our grandchildren, as well as those of the , who broached the same subject himself, are going to have to pay for the mistakes that are made here. The road ahead is absolutely worrying.
I believe that, in the end, what we have to retain from this budget update is that the government is headed down the wrong road, onto which it first turned nine months ago when it tabled its budget. After getting itself elected on the promise of a minimal deficit, today it has lost control over spending.
It was a tremendous opportunity today to get back on track, to pay respect to hard-working Canadians, because what we are talking about today is taxes. We are talking about the money Canadians and entrepreneurs send us. Every morning millions of Canadians wake up, go to work, work hard, and see half of their salaries go to taxes. At the very least we should respect them and respect what we have been elected for.
The government was elected to run a small deficit. That is not the case. What it is doing is all wrong. Unfortunately, this is a cost that all of us here and all Canadians will have to pay.
To conclude, as Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Unfortunately, this government is doing the same thing, and we are going to hit a wall because of it.