The House resumed from March 19 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
I rise today in support of budget 2018. The budget is an affirmation of the two elements that drive a healthy economy, as well as a free and resilient democracy. Those are equality and growth.
In his 1961 address to the UN General Assembly, President Kennedy remarked, “conformity is the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.” For too long, Canada has sat complacent in the face of pay disparity between men and women. For too long, Canada has continued the trend of marginalizing our indigenous agency. Empowering these groups would not only restore equity, but also add fuel to Canada's growing economy, which our government, in budget 2018, is prepared to do.
Women represent half of Canada's population, and their full and equal participation in Canada's economy is essential for our future growth. Removing the systemic barriers to women's full economic participation would support the economy and strengthen the middle class. This must start with equal pay.
In Canada today, women earn 31% less than men do. To put it another way, the median income for women is $28,000, compared with $41,000 for men. The reasons behind the gender wage gap are deep-rooted and complex. Closing the gap will require leadership and a comprehensive approach, involving multiple tools. One of the main causes of the gender wage gap is the undervaluation of the work that has traditionally been done by women. Requiring equal pay for work of equal value is an effective way to fix this gap. To help address this issue, the government proposes to bring in a legislated proactive pay equity regime in federally regulated sectors, which would apply to over one million Canadian workers.
Furthermore, we must encourage women to pursue careers in male-dominated and often better paid red seal trades. Also, to ensure that women are increasingly able to model leadership to other aspiring female tradespeople, the government is allocating $19.9 million over five years, starting this year, to pilot an apprenticeship incentive grant for women.
We must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Canada must not grow wealthy to the exclusion of indigenous Canadians. We must advance reconciliation. Budget 2018 takes further steps to improve the quality of life of indigenous people in Canada, and it supports a new approach to recognizing and implementing indigenous rights. The government proposes to invest an additional $5 billion over five years to ensure that indigenous children and families have an equal chance to succeed in life, to build the capacity of indigenous governments, and to accelerate self-determination and self-government agreements with indigenous peoples, based on the recognition and implementation of their rights.
To address the funding pressures facing child and family service agencies, while also increasing prevention resources for communities so that children are safe and families can stay together, budget 2018 proposes to provide more than $1.4 billion in new funding over six years, starting in 2017-18, for first nations child and family services.
We must also recognize equity between generations, and the duty we have to ensure that future Canadians may enjoy the same or better environments than we do today. Canada has committed to conserving at least 17% of its land and inland waters by 2020, through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Both protected and conserved areas would ensure healthier habitats for species at risk and improve biodiversity.
Growing the economy and protecting our environment go hand in hand. To achieve the growth of both, our government has taken action. Responding to the critical and urgent need to take action on climate change, Canada's first ministers, in consultation with indigenous peoples, adopted the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change in December 2016. To support the implementation of this historic national plan, the government has allocated $5.7 billion over 12 years, including $2 billion for the low carbon economy fund, to combat climate change.
When Canadians are at the cutting edge of technology, not just Canada but the world stands to benefit. From the invention of insulin to the Canadarm, research in fundamental science has contributed to them all. This is why the government proposes to make significant new investments to ensure that Canada's current and future scientists and researchers have the funding and support they need to do their work. Budget 2018 proposes an investment of $3.8 billion in Canada's research system to support the work of researchers and provide them with access to the state-of-the-art tools and facilities they need to do their work.
Encouraging innovation is essential to securing the fruits of the future economy, but currently the government provides supports for all types and sizes through a vast and complicated array of programming. In an effort to make the services provided more responsive to the needs of businesses, in particular small businesses, the government has accepted the recommendation by the Advisory Council on Economic Growth. We will be reviewing all innovation programs that serve the business community to support greater efficiency and business growth.
In January, our government launched Innovation Canada to provide a single point of contact for Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses. Linking businesses with the right programs can mean the difference between their success and failure. The industrial research assistance program is a perfect example. IRAP has helped thousands of Canadians develop innovative technologies and successfully commercialize them in the global marketplace. To enable IRAP to support business research and development projects, the government proposes to invest $700 million over five years starting in 2018-19, and $150 million for every year ongoing. This funding will support hard-working Canadian entrepreneurs to create jobs as they grow and expand their businesses, getting them through the valley of death.
Protecting and promoting Canadian intellectual property is an essential step to promoting Canadian business. To accomplish this goal, budget 2018 proposes a new intellectual property strategy to help Canadian entrepreneurs better understand and protect intellectual property and to get better access to shared intellectual property. Budget 2018 proposes to invest $85.3 million over five years starting this year, with $10 million ongoing in support of the strategy.
Furthermore, to better enable firms to access and share intellectual property, the government proposes to provide $30 million in 2019-20 to pilot a patent collective. This collective will work with Canada's entrepreneurs to pool patents so that small and medium-sized firms have better access to the critical intellectual property they need to grow their business. This is proof that our government is listening to Parliament, as this was the third recommendation of the technology transfer report tabled by the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, on which I am honoured to serve.
Our plan is working. The government's efforts to support equality and growth have yielded clear results: nearly 700,000 jobs, an ever-decreasing debt-to-GDP ratio, and ending 51 long-term boil water advisories on reserve. While this is laudable progress, our work is only beginning. Albert Einstein said that we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them. Budget 2018 breaks the chain of conventional thinking to prepare Canada for success in the 21st century.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be here as the voice of the very unique riding called Kenora. Today, I am going to speak on behalf of the Kenora riding, which is a third of Ontario's land mass. It is one of the largest rural ridings in our country. It is unique in that I represent 55 communities, but 42 are first nations, so that is a third of the first nations in Ontario. Because of that, we have some unique challenges as northerners and rural Canadians.
I want to remind the House that 20% of Canadians live in rural Canada. They make their living in agriculture, mining, forestry, tourism, and of course some of the service industries that we all know of. As a rural caucus, we have been talking to the government about announcements related to infrastructure. If we want to grow our economy and to grow Canada, we are going to have to find ways to be successful in putting in infrastructure and the improvements that rural Canadians expect, so they too can be competitive in a new generation of technology and where work has to go.
I will use the example of broadband and the push by the rural members of our caucus to convince the government to not only hear us but to move toward making those changes. In today's economy, we cannot do business in rural Canada without modern technology. Without modern technology, the reason that people leave the rural parts of Canada to move to the cities is obvious. They go to school or they are looking for employment. It is very difficult to make business decisions when the modern, more basic technology that most people take for granted does not exist in northern Ontario, and in lots of parts of rural Canada.
I want to start by highlighting our progress so far. Over the last two years, Canada's economic growth has been fuelled by the hard work of many Canadians combined with historic investments in people and in communities. Therefore, it is exciting to know that since November 2015, we have created a significant number, some 600,000 new jobs in Canada. That is something we should all rejoice in because that is what we are here in this place to do. Whether as members of the government or in opposition, we are here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to improve the lives of Canadians both in our own ridings and across the country. It is good news, and we should rejoice that we are leading the G7. We should feel good about this accomplishment. The unemployment rate is the lowest in 40 years. We should see that as a significant accomplishment and one that shows the government's policies are having an impact.
However, I do not think it is fair to say that everything is government related. It is all about whether businesses and Canadians in general have a view that they can progress and prosper, and whether they agree with the kinds of policies and direction that a government is taking.
Canada's strong fiscal fundamentals mean that our government has the confidence to make the investments in our future that will lay a solid foundation for the next generation of Canadians. I have said in most of my speeches, in the riding in particular, that every decade or two decades or so, Parliament and Canadian parliamentarians have to conclude that it is time to reinvest in Canada's infrastructure and its development, and to spend the resources to prepare the next generation to be competitive.
I see this budget, as I have seen the last two budgets, as being from a government that is looking long term and to the future. I want to make sure that the government, when it looks long term, thinks about the reality that more people will move to rural Canada in the next generation if the technology is in place for them to be there. Most of us who live in the north live there because we like the lifestyle. We have a tradition and a culture that is different from that of urbanites. We want to keep our children there and keep working there, and we need the technology and the infrastructure. We need the support of Canada, and the Ontario government in this case, for these things to happen.
I will just use the example of my riding, which is a bit unique. Out of the 42 first nations I represent, as of today 22 are still isolated. They have no roads. If one asks the question, “Why are first nations in regions like mine not having the opportunity to create an economy?”, it is pretty simple. They have both hands tied behind their backs as far as building an economy goes. They have no broadband, no infrastructure such as roads, bridges, or grids to these communities, and are still basically living with the technology of 100 years ago, so it is not hard to imagine why it is a challenge. It is one that this government is working very hard to change in first nation communities.
I commend the , the , and the for working as hard as they have to change the perspective and the opportunities of first nations people in ridings like mine. Without the help of the governments to develop the infrastructure everybody already has in urban Canada, ridings like mine will not progress and build the economy we have a right to have, like every other Canadian.
I call on the Ontario government. There is an election coming, which is great, and I hope to see northern policies coming out of the different parties that reflect the needs of northerners and rural Canadians in the province of Ontario, which I happen to represent.
I want to talk for a few minutes about the uniqueness of this budget. The uniqueness of this budget is really about looking to the future. Part of that is about making sure women can enter the workforce in many different ways. We have put significant amounts of dollars in this budget to move women to a place where they have more opportunity to participate in the economy. That is good straight economics. There is no fancy way to put this. If we can get more women in the workforce and equal pay for work of equal value, we can all rest assured that they can compete with men at any level. That is basically the premise of this budget.
However, I want to remind people, those of us who have daughters who are now young women with great educations and the opportunities to be successful, that we have to put the tools in their hands so they can be. This budget works toward that. We have the most educated women in any country in the world, so there is absolutely no reason why they cannot be successful. This gender budget is really about putting in the pieces to see if this can move to the next level. This is not to say that we have not gotten anywhere, because we have gotten a long way down the road, but we still have a long way to go.
With the few minutes I have left, I want to end my speech today talking about issues important to all Canadians. As people know, I represent a region—not a riding—the size of France. In that large region, we have the most fresh water of anybody in Ontario, if not North America. If anyone were to take a little ride on an airplane with me across this vast region, they would see that it looks like there is more water than there is land because there are lakes and rivers everywhere.
I am very encouraged that we are now looking to scientists to give us advice on water quality and the importance of water. Most of my constituents around the region, quite a few of them, are in the tourism business, and it is all about water. Not only is it important for us to leave our children with a pristine environment and a Canada they can be proud of, but it is also good economics to make sure the environment is protected. When we go fishing we want to catch a fish we can eat. When we go boating we want to go swimming without worrying about getting some sort of disease from the water. All of these things are extremely important to northerners, who I see as the people who think about the environment every day because we live within it.
I want to congratulate the and the for some of the work we are doing on the scientific side of things. I just went to the International Joint Commission's conference the other day, and I learned a lot about science and what we are doing. I want to commend them for that.
I look forward to the government continuing to see rural Canada as a great opportunity for economic opportunities for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak to the budget. I would like to note that I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I rise as the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, a riding that is half-urban and half-rural, split by the mighty Red River that flows from the United States all the way up to our seaport at Hudson Bay and Churchill, which we have heard so much about. The people of Kildonan—St. Paul are hard-working, fair minded, and just like this budget, striving to do better. I am going to start by looking at the provisions of the budget that have impacted my own jurisdiction of Manitoba and then take some time to have an opportunity to discuss its implications federally.
Manitoba has been very fortunate to see a significant increase in transfer payments. Overall, transfer payments are up $289.6 million. Equalization gets most of that money allocation at $216.5 million. Health is also up at $56.5 million, and social services and programs will receive $16.6 million more.
The situation is that the federal government has been very generous to Manitoba; however, with a Conservative government provincially, we have not necessarily seen the rollout of those innovative and supportive measures as quickly and dynamically as we had hoped and see in other jurisdictions. One can remember from the past the legacy of the Harper Conservatives who instead of looking at investments, looked at conserving funds and innovation.
In addition to overall transfer payments we're looking at a significant investment in one of the most brilliant architectural structures in Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Museum, a global award-winning structure I hope everyone has had the opportunity to come and visit. Besides the alabaster walkways and the garden of tranquillity, which has 52 pieces of columnar basalt, the content of the Human Rights Museum is even more dynamic and beautiful, as it is time for Canadians and the world to reflect on human rights and move forward in terms of reconciliation.
Additionally, we received funding for a national microbiology lab, which we are going to be expanding with the establishment of a centre for innovation and infectious disease diagnostics. Again, it builds on the strength of the microbiology lab. It builds on our other centres within Winnipeg and we are so proud that we have a government that is supporting Manitobans and in particular, Winnipeg.
In addition, I want to note that Manitoba will benefit from the Canada workers benefit and the Canada workers benefit disability program. In fact, finally we have seen an increase to our economic development agency, an agency that we have been working with that provides seed money or a bit of extra to create jobs and stimulate innovation.
This is a budget that for the first time really recognizes the significance of our indigenous people, known to us as the Métis. The Métis are a fundamental foundation partner in Manitoba and we see in the budget $516 million for Métis over 10 years and $325 million for employment and training programs. It is high time that we had a Liberal government recognize the significance of the Métis people in Canada.
When I look at the budget in a broader sense, as a woman and a scientist in earth science, I am thrilled with it. I spent most of my professional career in exploration and development in the mineral sector. I see this as a budget that takes the steps to provide the framework for removing the most important barriers to development, with the establishment of certainty. We see this with pipelines, but we also see it for hard rock projects. It is absolutely essential that we have a rights recognition process with indigenous people across Canada, so they become partners in the projects and are integral in receiving the benefits, including resource revenue sharing from projects across Canada.
In addition to establishing a positive framework, finally, we are moving forward on the front of indigenous relationships. Most significant is the fact that our has indicated it is the most important relationship we have as a government. I am very proud to be part of a government that recognizes this
With respect to economic growth, we are doing fairly well. We have created 600,000 jobs. We are close to recovering from the crash in resource commodities that hit us about three years ago. We have been working hard to eliminate child poverty. We are helping small business through tax cuts, innovation, and science moving forward. We are helping low-income workers.
I specifically want to thank the government and the for recognizing the importance of the mineral exploration tax credit. For explorationists working on the hope they will make a discovery, this tax credit is essential. It will keep Canadian explorationists looking for more resources that can be utilized for economic development and the benefit of indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
With respect to gender, we finally see a government that understands and is moving forward by taking positive steps. Parental sharing will make a significant difference. We need only look at the great work Quebec has already done in paving the way, with 80% of Quebec fathers using the provision, while the rest of Canadians, males or other partners, are only engaged 12% of the time.
In addition, the government has indicated it will bring in pay equity legislation. We are moving forward on this very significant flag, with essential programs that will be coming forward. Also, we are going to be boosting women's labour participation in trades and apprenticeships.
In the extractive industries, in which I am particularly interested, we can look at their sustainability reports and global reporting initiatives and statistics. Most of our companies are the best in the world. We are clearly the leaders in hard rock and the oil and gas industry. However, the reports indicate we have not seen significant advancement in gender equity.
For example, Cameco, which has the best record, has only 24% women in its workforce. Hudbay has 20% women in its workforce. Barrick has only 15% women in its workforce. Vale has only 12% women in its workforce. We need to do so much better.
On indigenous people, 25% of committed money in the budget will go to indigenous peoples. We are proud of that. It is needed. We know the significant challenges.
In regard to science, this is the largest single investment in fundamental research in Canadian history, and we can all be proud of that, versus the Conservative strategy in the previous government of muzzling scientists. That is hardly the way we see a progressive country moving forward.
How are we doing? When we look at global rankings, we are seventh globally in social and environmental issues; third in the number of high-quality universities; second in tolerance and inclusion; first in tolerance for religions and immigrants; second in access to advanced education; and first in low homicide rates. It seems like the Liberal government is on the right track.
Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. I am always very happy to meet with them when I am in the riding. I am confident that the measures in budget 2018 will be highly beneficial for them again this year.
On this day of budget speeches, I would like to draw my colleagues' attention to some fundamental issues that are important to many of my constituents whom I have met over the past two weeks.
I will first talk about women and entrepreneurship. Those are the key terms in the new budget, and we can be proud of that. Support is provided for women-owned businesses so that their businesses can expand, so that they can find new clients and gain access to more export opportunities. That will be possible thanks to improved access to investments for women entrepreneurs. They will have access to $1.65 billion over three years through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
The allocation of $105 million over five years through the regional development agencies will support women entrepreneurs. Those investments are essential for our communities' economic growth. The riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is made up of families, young people and seniors, but it also includes many industries, as well as small and medium-sized businesses. That is why I am pleased that this budget will support them better, while providing a unique vision for entrepreneurs.
Under budget 2018, $2.9 billion will be invested over five years to help companies innovate and to put Canadian companies at a competitive advantage. I am very pleased that this government is investing over $500 million to advance cybersecurity and funding a new national cybersecurity strategy, because this issue is top of mind at the Standing Committee on National Defence, of which I am a member. We absolutely need to create a safe, reliable, and accessible Canadian centre for cybersecurity. This centre will give the government, in addition to Canadians and businesses, access to a centralized source of specialized advice, guidance, service, and support on cybersecurity issues.
Furthermore, I am proud to support official languages, and this is reflected in my speeches in both the House and in committee. I am very pleased that budget 2018 allocates $400 million in new funding over five years in support of the action plan for official languages 2018-23. I met with members of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, and I know what they need. They reacted positively and enthusiastically to this announcement. This funding will enable them to carry out several projects and to fulfill their mission in the years to come. This funding is awarded in different ways, including support for community organizations that provide services to community members, that welcome newcomers, and that work in early childhood development. There will also be funding for recruiting and retaining French and ESL teachers.
I taught English as a second language in Quebec's far north and at the four high schools in Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. I can speak to the importance of learning both official languages. It is especially important these days for young people to master both French and English. It will make it easier for them to join the work force no matter which field they get into.
Help for seniors was also a big part of the discussions when I had coffee with my constituents on March 13. Those who attended were quite open and keenly interested in knowing how the new federal budget was going to help them in the day-to-day. What seniors go through matters to me personally and that is why I try to meet with them every chance I get.
I have made it my mission to advocate for the well-being of seniors. That is why I am pleased that $20 million is being allocated over five years for community projects to support people living with dementia and family caregivers. This funding will certainly help seniors living with this reality as well as their loved ones in gaining access to mental health support measures.
I am also pleased with the changes coming to the Canada pension plan in 2019, which will have a very positive impact. The changes include increasing retirement benefits under the CPP enhancement for parents who take time off work to care for persons with severe and prolonged disabilities, raising survivor's pensions for individuals under age 45 who lose their spouse, providing a top-up disability benefit to retirement pension recipients under the age of 65 who are disabled, and increasing the death benefit to its maximum value of $2,500 for all eligible contributors.
These changes, which are intended to improve our seniors' quality of life, speak to our government's appreciation for their considerable contributions to our country's development. Concrete action has been taken, and our government will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure a more secure and dignified retirement for our seniors. We want all of our seniors to receive the benefits they are entitled to and high-quality services that meet their needs.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your leadership. I will be sharing my time with the incredible member for .
It is a real honour to make comments today regarding the 2018 budget.
Canadians are looking to the budget with great hope that the government will be responsible in its spending, that its focus and priorities will be balanced and prudent, and that it will be careful with their tax dollars. The budget is about what we do with the resources, the taxes that are collected by the government from Canadians. Are taxes going to go up or down? Will things become more expensive and less affordable?
This is a political place where we have very interesting debates at times. However, it is important that we listen to some of the experts. One of those experts is the Parliamentary Budget Officer. It is important that we rely on the unbiased professional critique of this budget.
We have seen huge announcements in this budget. This is the third budget that the Liberal government has introduced. It has one more budget to bring in, in another year. Is the government doing a good or bad job? Is it responsible or irresponsible? We have seen hundreds of billions of dollars in announcements that have been made over the last almost three years, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer has provided an important critique.
After the budget was presented, it was recently reported that budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes that the government has made to its $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan. The PBO requested the plan, but it does not exist. Roughly one-quarter of the funding allocated for infrastructure from 2016-17 to 2018-19 was not spent and will lapse. The money was announced but was not spent. The mystery for Canadians is how these announcements can be made, how we can have a growing deficit, a growing debt in Canada, yet the money is not being spent. Where is this money going?
The Fraser Institute provided an analysis on this budget. It stated:
|| In the midst of serious concerns over Canada’s economic prospects, and challenges emerging from the United States, [the] Finance Minister[’s]...2018 federal budget does nothing to address these problems. In some respects, the budget makes matters worse by continuing the government’s self-destructive policies of chronic deficit-financed spending and new taxes on entrepreneurs.
It does not sound good.
Andrew Coyne stated:
|| Once upon a time the federal budget was about the budget of the federal government. It was an annual opportunity for Parliament and the public to examine the federal government’s program of expenses and revenues for the coming fiscal year.... All that is now in the past.
It sounds like what the said at the beginning, that budgets balance themselves. We all know they do not, and it is no mystery why we have this growing problem.
John Ivison of the National Post wrote, “as the Liberals have proven over the past two years, policies are adopted to get elected, not necessarily to be implemented.” We continue to hear announcements of hundreds of billions of dollars with no action taken.
I am particularly concerned that there is almost no mention of seniors in the budget. I am the critic for palliative care and income security for seniors. I listened intently to my colleague on the other side when he spoke about seniors. In budget 2018, there is no mention of seniors. He spoke about the national housing plan. That is reliant on the provinces buying into that plan, but the provinces have not bought into it. Again there are a lot of big announcements and confetti in the air, but no substance in those announcements. Just as we heard from the Parliamentary Budget Officer regarding the billions of dollars for a national infrastructure plan, that is fizzling. The Liberals are not getting it done.
As for seniors, the mystery is why there is no priority for seniors. We have heard announcements about how important seniors are to the government, but in the budget document, they are missing. There is no mention of seniors and the importance of seniors, except for one time. There is no minister advocating in cabinet for seniors. In the shadow cabinet on this side, in the official opposition, we have two members of Parliament appointed to deal with the issues of seniors. Why is that? It is because we have a growing aging population, and it is very important that we take care of our Canadian seniors. At least it is on this side of the House. Therefore, we encourage the government, as do stakeholders across Canada, to appoint a minister for seniors so that there is a strong voice at the cabinet table. Because that voice is missing, seniors continue to be ignored.
There were dollars in the previous two budgets for palliative care. Palliative care is end-of-life care that Canadians need. Seventy per cent of Canadians who need palliative care do not have access to it. That is why, with the passage of Bill , this Parliament unanimously supported providing palliative care, but we have to have the dollars appointed to it in the budget, and they are missing. The dollars used to be there. They are gone. Hopefully the government will consider an amendment to its budget to include those dollars again for palliative care, because we will continue on a trajectory where we have Canadians not having the palliative care that is needed.
The healthy seniors pilot project was announced for New Brunswick on page 173. I would suggest another amendment to include the west. Where are most Canadian seniors going to retire to spend the last years of their lives? It is on the west coast in the Vancouver and Victoria areas. The west coast is where the climate is much more favourable. Accessibility is better year-round. Flowers actually are growing right now in that area, and people have already started to cut their lawns. Spring is coming to this cold, white area, but that is where seniors like to retire. Why was the west not included in a pilot project? It is because this is the government's riding. It is a partisan appointment, and dollars were appointed based on politics, not on the needs of seniors.
The other issue is the Canada summer jobs program, mentioned on pages 56 and 250. We had a very sad vote here in the House yesterday. Each of us, as members of Parliament, have received our list of applicants. I am going to be digesting that and going over it carefully, but it has really changed. It is not on par with previous Canada summer jobs programs. I looked very carefully, and it is primarily for commercial applications. The not-for-profit organizations have provided job experience and are very important to bless our communities. It is all gone, it appears.
I am concerned that this has affected my opportunity to carry out my responsibility as a member of Parliament. Every year for the last 14 years, I have gone over that list. Because of the government's discrimination against Canadians, because of its bias, it has introduced the new values test. Quality job experiences for our youth have been lost. It is not fair. It is not equitable. There are going to be fewer job opportunities because of what the government has done. It is not on par with previous years. Hopefully the government will consider an amendment to that too.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand today and discuss the budget put forward by the government. It would be remiss of me not to point out the fact that there has been a stunning rejection of this budget by everyone who has been watching the financial situation of Canada, indeed by my constituents in Milton, Ontario.
We can look at the issues from a higher level, and oftentimes in the House of Commons, that is exactly what we do. We think about the bigger picture, about the financial health of Canada and the security of Canada. If we argue on that basis alone, this budget is failing incredibly, just like the government has been such a failure for Canadians, middle class or otherwise.
If we take a look at what the government's record has been and where we are going in the future, what we see is that there is no plan to balance the budget for 25 years. We see, as well, that there have been material hikes in personal income taxes in the past two years. We have seen the introduction of a national carbon tax, an aggressive attack on small business, and associated risks around NAFTA. These are the things being spoken about in places like the Financial Post. Mr. Martin Pelletier had a very good article this morning about the fact that while the government may beat its chest and say that we have a great economy and are doing well, the reality is that there are storm clouds on the horizon. The government's approach has been to do nothing but spend more. It is not saving or putting money aside, as the Province of Quebec has done. It is spending more.
In the high-level picture, why it is important to ensure that we balance the budget? I give members the example of Ontario versus Quebec. For the past number of years, the Province of Quebec has shown fiscal restraint, and what do we have today? It is able to lower income taxes and pay down its debt for the first time since the 1950s at such an extensive level. What do we have in Ontario? We have a government that has announced that it is going to continue to spend us into oblivion, tacking even more billions in debt and deficit onto my kids, who live in Milton, Ontario, and onto the kids who live all around Milton, Ontario.
This can all be boiled down to a fundamental difference between the government and what we believe on this side. The government believes that it should be the be all and end all of everything in this country. It believes that it is there to actually create public sector jobs to employ the entire country. What it does not get is that true economic growth and true job growth come from allowing and unleashing the private sector to create these jobs. That is what works in this country. It is a proven fact, from the time we were in government, that getting these jobs going is what makes our local economies and our country in general more prosperous.
What do I see in this budget? Well, I see the promise made to constituents, my constituents and those across the country, that we are going to do targeted infrastructure spending to spur the economy. That makes sense. We like infrastructure spending for the reason that it creates private jobs that will continue to spin off into the economy. They are not jobs created in Ottawa. They are jobs created in Milton, Ontario. What has Milton, Ontario, seen of this infrastructure money? Not an awful lot. What I see in this budget is the fact that the Liberals are pushing off into the future $4.2 billion in infrastructure spending and are still showing deficits in the billions of dollars this year. Automatically, my mind goes to what they are spending it on. What are they possibly doing?
Milton, Ontario, my home, is a growing community. The majority are small-town families. Actually, the biggest proportion of the growing population was under age 10 at one point in time, and we can see that from the schools that are newly being built, and of course, the portables that go with them to house how many children there are in Milton right now. Parents tend to work outside of the riding of Milton. They tend to work in Mississauga and other places all around. There are some stay-at-home moms. There are some moms who go to work. There are some stay-at-home dads, and there are some dads who go out of the house to work as well. It is a wonderful mix.
As I put myself in their shoes and I talk to them about what is in this budget for them, I actually do not see a lot in there. What are they getting for their higher taxes? What are they getting for these bloated deficits that their children, who they are placing all their hopes on, are going to receive?
There is an interesting article in the newspaper today talking about the issue with respect to employment in the country. There are over 400,000 jobs that need to be filled. We hear about a labour shortage, a crisis, but we also have people who are searching for jobs. There is a mismatch in skills. There is nothing in the budget that addresses the issue of people going into jobs and employers who do not know what skills they need, and there is no communication. When we were government, we recognized that, understood that. We put resources into making sure that at least parents knew what skills were going to be needed for the future. Employers knew what they were going to need from people and knew to interpret the experience they needed to help them in their companies.
In the few minutes I have, I want to talk about one major funding announcement that was not in the budget this year. It came very recently from the government, and it has to do with the deployment of our national forces to Mali for a peacekeeping mission. It is well known that the UN asked the and the government two years ago to take part in the Mali mission. In November, the Prime Minister was pressed when he had a conference in Vancouver to talk about peacekeeping. He was pressed about when he would be announcing the peacekeeping initiative. He said at the time that he had to take it seriously and had to think about it, and the decision would come. He recognized that he would be putting soldiers and sailors “in harm's way”.
Knowing this decision was being made, knowing that the Liberals were in the process of it, I find it odd that they did two things. They cut the money in the financial update in the fall that would be going to the military. They cut the amount of money they would have for military equipment.
Indeed, when I look at the budget, I always go to the table of contents, because that is where we usually get the top line of who is getting what in the budget this year. Eagerly, I took a look at part 3, “Upholding Shared Values”, and there was nothing in there for national defence. I scanned part 4, which is “Security and Access to Justice”, and there was nothing in there for national defence. This made me upset and angry and very concerned, and for this reason. Yesterday in the House of Commons, I asked the a question, knowing that oftentimes we are given advice about the risk associated with personnel deploying to dangerous war areas. This is a dangerous war area. There has been 162 peacekeepers lost since 2013. Last year, there were 220 incidents of attack against the blue helmets, which was more than happened in 2015 and 2016 combined. It is not getting better. It is getting far, far worse, and the targets are the men and women in blue helmets.
The targets will be our Canadian Forces. That is recognized by the government, and it is recognized by the opposition. More importantly, when I asked the yesterday, he gave assurances to the House that he would have mitigation in the form that the forces would have all the equipment and all the support they need.
However, where is it? It is not in the budget. It is not in the Liberals' budget within National Defence, because they have not been given that money; they have had money taken away. There is a big problem when we decide to send our men and women overseas without the appropriate equipment and supports. The way in which the Liberals announced it yesterday, with the minister saying one thing and the chief of the defence staff contradicting and saying another, I have great fears for this mission that they will be undertaking. We know this is a very dangerous place. It is a place that is dissolving in terms of democracy, and it has been for a very long time.
There have been two coups in Mali. There is insurgency, not just in the north but in the central part of Mali as well. We have a situation where blue helmets are being targeted, and yet we are “happily”, as the said yesterday, accepting the UN invitation. I would hope that the Prime Minister has a lot more to say, as opposed to happily sending our men and women into a very dangerous place without having the appropriate equipment. I cannot understand why he thinks that the most important decision a prime minister ever takes about sending our men and women into harm's way is a request from the UN that he happily gave.
On a last point, I have done much reading about the importance of women in peacekeeping, and I fundamentally believe in it. However, I believe in it where there is communication in communities and where there is intelligence gathering. In this case, 80% of the forces are being used to protect the other forces.
My fear is that the has negotiated perks with United Nations with respect to his desire for the security seat. As a result, he has decided to send our men and women into the most dangerous mission in the world without support, without money, without resources, and without equipment. We will hold him to account.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.
It is a great pleasure to rise to speak in support of budget 2018. The measures proposed in budget 2018 will have a substantial and positive impact on my riding of Oakville. I look forward to seeing the benefits roll out in my community next year and for the years to come.
Since coming to office, one of our government's highest priorities has been growing our economy. Now, with the highest growth rate in the G7, we are taking steps to ensure that all Canadians feel the benefit of Canada's economic growth. Budget 2018 presents a message of equality and growth for Canada that translates into smart investments for Oakville and Halton residents. This budget proposes targeted progressive projects that will build a more equal, competitive, and sustainable Canada.
In the months leading up to the budget, I had the opportunity to speak with many people in my riding, constituency organizations, residents, chambers of commerce members, and stakeholders, in Oakvillle about their concerns and priorities for the upcoming budget. While the stakeholders came from all backgrounds and perspectives, many common themes emerged through those discussions. Oakville's stakeholders voiced their support for investments in job creation and advanced manufacturing, investments in research and development, and government action to further promote gender equality and enhanced environmental protection.
Among the many exciting investments proposed in 2018, there were a few I would like to highlight that in particular relate to my riding of Oakville.
For many Canadians, being a parent and raising a family is the most important part of their lives. New families in Oakville rely on maternity and parental benefits for support during the critical period in early childhood when they need to take time off work to care for their children. Budget 2018 makes it easier for parents to share child care responsibilities through a new EI parental sharing benefit. This encourages both parents to take time off through a “use it or lose it” incentive of five additional weeks. This encourages greater equality when it comes to the challenge of sharing child care responsibility, and helps to distribute family and home duties between parents. I look forward to seeing Oakville families benefiting from this program.
Our government has always been clear that we need to do more to protect our natural environment. Our quality of life rests on the commitments we make to protect Canada's parks and other natural wild spaces, both today and for the future. That is why we have proposed $1.3 billion over five years to implement a number of key measures, including the creation of a joint $1 billion nature fund. This will be done in partnership with corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial, indigenous, and other partners. The fund will make it possible to secure private lands and support efforts to protect species. The fund also proposes to establish a connected network of protected areas with our partners.
Another important aspect of the fund is that it will establish better rules for the review of major projects that will protect our natural environment and waterways. Oakville residents cherish our green spaces like Sixteen Mile Creek and Bronte Creek Provincial Park and want to make sure we are putting in protections to preserve them for future generations. These new measures will ensure just that.
When I was speaking with my constituents, a key priority was increasing available funding for research and development. There is an incredible amount of innovation happening in Canada. It is vital to support our research and development in order to grow our economy and remain competitive on the world stage. Through budget 2018, the government will provide a historic level of new funding in support of Canadian researchers. This package of research support was informed by the recommendations in Canada's fundamental science review. It is about more than just funding. It is about moving toward a modern research system defined by greater collaboration between disciplines and researchers from across the globe.
Budget 2018 is making an investment of nearly $4 billion to support the next generation of Canadian researchers creating advancements in a wide range of fields. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research will be receiving $354.7 million over five years to support advancements like new technology to diagnose disease earlier, or new medicines to treat patients.
As the chair of the health research caucus, I have had the opportunity to hear first-hand from many Canadian researchers who have been worried about their job security and the future of their research projects. They will benefit immensely from this new funding. As someone who used to review grants on a CIHR review board, it was often challenging to deny projects that we knew would be of benefit to Canada because of limited funding. This funding is a much-needed shot in the arm for Canadian researchers and our research institutions.
We are also looking to increase support for collaborative innovation projects involving businesses, colleges, and polytechnics, such as Sheridan College in my riding, by proposing $140 million over five years through the college and community innovation program.
As the member of Parliament for Oakville, home to Ford Canada, and as chair of the Liberal auto caucus, I also want to highlight how budget 2018 will support the automotive industry in Canada.
Driven by the operations of five global automotive manufacturers and over 660 diverse automotive suppliers, the automotive industry is Canada's largest source of manufacturing exports and trade. As part of our pre-budget submission, the auto caucus called for continued investments in this sector. Canada's auto sector and advanced manufacturing will benefit from the $1.26-billion strategic innovation fund, which will offer both repayable and non-repayable contributions to firms of all sizes across all of Canada. Budget 2018 is giving this vital industry more opportunity to invest in Canada, driving economic growth and job creation in the advanced manufacturing sector in Ontario.
I cannot speak in support of budget 2018 without recognizing the effort and consideration that has been taken throughout its proposals to address gender inequality issues in Canada.
Budget 2018 offers more ways to ensure the equal and full participation of women in Canada's economy. We are changing parental leave benefits, as I previously outlined, to help mothers transition more easily back to the workforce. We are taking pay equity seriously by implementing historic proactive pay equity legislation so that Canadians receive equal pay for equal work. We are making unprecedented investments in women in business through establishing the women entrepreneurship strategy in a $1.65-billion investment over three years through the Business Development Bank and Export Development Canada.
We are expanding Canada's strategy to address gender-based violence, providing funding to projects, including preventing violence in teen dating and supporting rape crisis and sexual assault centres. Also proposed is $1.8 million in funding for programs that engage men and boys on the importance of gender equality and speaking against violence against women. Events like our local Halton Women's Place Hope in High Heels, which I was pleased to co-host and bring to Parliament Hill last November, raise awareness on this issue. These are initiatives I believe are necessary and will make a significant impact on our country's future. I have said many times, violence against women is a male problem, and the solution must include men and boys. I am so proud to stand here as part of a government that has not only taken gender issues seriously, but is providing meaningful and thoughtful ways to address those challenges.
I would now like to speak about a topic included in the budget that is near and dear to my heart. It is a priority in my riding of Oakville and across Canada. A highlight of the budget is the creation of the national advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. As many of my constituents and colleagues in the House know, this is one of the main reasons I decided to enter federal politics. We are the only country in the world with a national health care system that does not also have a national pharmacare program. When one in four Canadians cannot afford to fill or finish a prescription, something must be done. When a single mother of two has to choose between medication for a sick child or food on the table, something must be done. When a senior on a fixed income cannot refill a required medication, or when our nation's young adults cannot afford medications for chronic illnesses, like insulin for diabetes, something must be done.
This is an issue I have been advocating for since I was elected. One of the first things I did after the election was work to initiate a study into a national pharmacare program by the Standing Committee on Health. We have heard from 99 witnesses in order to prepare an in-depth report to Parliament on what a program could look like and how it could be implemented. I look forward to the report being tabled in the House in the near future. The national advisory council is the next step to achieving this goal. I am beyond proud that our government has commissioned the council to further investigate how this should be implemented, and I will continue to work both in Ottawa and at home in Oakville to further the health of Canadians.
As we can see, budget 2018 is supporting targeted, progressive projects that will build a more equal, competitive, and sustainable Canada. I am proud to support these initiatives, and I look forward to seeing the benefits roll out in Oakville and across our great country.
[Member spoke in Cree]
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be here on Algonquin territory. Ottawa is the meeting place of many first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, but it is also the home and capital of all Canadians. I am very proud to be here today to offer my comments and my thoughts on budget 2018.
My mother is an example. She worked hard, day in and day out, in her life. It was a life of sacrifice for her two children. She was a single mother. She earned minimum wage, often in various precarious employments. She even delivered newspapers at five a.m., and then I would help her in the evenings, delivering other newspapers. We were not always able to pay the rent. It was very hard sometimes to get ahead in society. It was hard to make ends meet, to make sure that we could actually provide the necessities. I remember going to the supermarket and counting out the dollars, penny by penny. Even if we found a penny on the ground, it was something of value because it might be add up to enough to be able to buy some milk for that day.
I am very proud of the government and the work that we are doing.
In the new budget of 2018, the government proposes to strengthen the working income tax benefit, the WITB, by making it more generous and by making the benefits more accessible to people like my mother, so that they can get the resources and the tools they need to be successful in life. This strengthened benefit will be named the Canada workers benefit, CWB, and will take effect in 2019.
In budget 2018, the government proposed to increase maximum benefits under the CWB by up to $170 in 2019 and increase the income level at which the benefit is phased out completely. The government also proposes to increase the maximum benefit provided through the CWB disability supplement by an additional $160. This enhancement is expected to directly benefit about 68,000 Manitoba workers annually, and many of these 68,000 people in Manitoba can be found in Winnipeg Centre, the riding I have the opportunity to represent here.
As a result of these enhancements, a low-income worker earning $15,000 a year could receive up to nearly $500 more from the program in 2019 than he or she received in 2018. Moving forward, the government will continue to work with interested provinces and territories to harmonize benefits and to help support the transition from social assistance and into work. I hope the provincial government in Manitoba will take this opportunity to really strengthen the situation and the condition of many of our poorest workers.
At the same time, the government recognizes that not all low-income workers are receiving the CWB payment that they are entitled to. The government is proposing amendments that will allow the Canada Revenue Agency to automatically determine whether these tax filers are eligible for the benefit. An estimated 300,000 additional low-income workers will receive the new CWB for the 2019 tax year as a result of these changes. Specifically, the government estimates that approximately 13,000 additional low-income Manitobans will receive the benefit for the year 2019. Once again, many of these additional 13,000 low-income Manitobans can be found in Winnipeg but also in rural areas and in many first nation communities.
The CWB enhancement, combined with new investments to make sure that every worker who qualifies actually receives the benefit, will mean that the government is investing almost $1 billion of new funding for the benefit in 2019, relative to 2018. That is investing in people, people who are going to invest in the economy, people who are not going to put that money in the bank, saving it for a rainy day, but people who are actually going to spend it on their children, buying the bread and milk their children require today.
The government estimates these enhancements and the improved take-up in 2019 will directly benefit more than two million working Canadians, many of whom were not benefiting from the WITB before. This will help lift approximately 70,000 Canadians out of poverty. I have seen the estimates, and Manitoba low-income workers will be provided with about $114.5 million more in benefits under the new Canada workers benefit in the 2018-19 to 2022-23 period as a result of this budget. I am very proud of that.
This is not all that we can find in the budget.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity of having a meet and greet at the YaFa Café, a Palestinian café in my riding, just off of Portage near the airport. A young lady came in from Brandon. She drove two and a half hours to visit with me to tell me her story. She had lost her children to the child welfare system. They had been taken from her. She told me how she had complained about the abuse she was suffering at the hands of her partner and how instead of helping her and ensuring she could keep her newborn baby, the system took her baby from her. The workers said that she was also at fault and that she needed to prove she would be a good parent. She is also indigenous.
Therefore, I am very proud that the government decided not to continue fighting, in the Human Rights Tribunal, the child welfare case that was before it for a very long period of time. The government could have done that. It could have fought it over many years, probably another a decade, and gone through the court system all the way to the top.
Instead of doing that, we are providing $1.4 billion in new funding over six years. I am very proud of the government, the ministers, and the people all across this chamber, even our colleagues on the other side, especially from the NDP and the Conservative Party, who I believe support this. This is important to the young lady, who drove from Brandon for a 25 minute chance to speak with me about an issue that was important to her life. She spoke from the heart. It is important because that makes the difference in her life. The budget is not alive in this chamber or in the stats; it is alive in the lives of people and Canadians.
This is not the only investment the government is making. We recognize that not only is it important to reform the child welfare system, but we also have to invest in families. In this case, another $1.5 billion over five years are being invested in indigenous families, making them stronger. We know there have been many issues over many years. I can list multiple stats: $498 million, with $97.6 million per year ongoing to sustain access to critical medical care and services, including 24/7 nursing stations in 79 remote and isolated first nations communities; $200 million, with $40 million per year to enhance the delivery of culturally appropriate addictions treatment and prevention services in first nations communities with high needs.
This one is extremely important. I had a town hall in our constituency week. A gentleman from Saskatchewan, Mr. Johnson, attended. He is a lawyer, an indigenous man, and a trapper and a hunter. He had worked in the mining camps for many years. He was told he was stupid, that he, as an indigenous person, could not succeed. To prove people wrong, he went to law school and got his law degree from the University of Saskatchewan. To prove people wrong again, he got a master's degree in law from Harvard. Not only was he successful in this, he eventually became a crown prosecutor.
One of the issues he raised was the level of addiction in many communities across the country, which we fail to recognize. He talked about the impacts of alcohol. He talked about what we needed to do to eradicate this, which is destroying many people. He talked about all the deaths it caused. Whether cancers, FASD children, or drunk driving, it is important to address these things.
We had 100 people at this town hall. They listened intently over the noon hour on a Wednesday, while he discussed addictions. He estimated that 95% of all the court cases in northern Saskatchewan were alcohol related. We talk about opioids, meth addiction, and other addictions. However, we often fail to recognize the addiction that is among us each and every day even in this chamber and in this building, Centre Block.
I look forward to questions.
Tapwe akwa khitwam hi hi.
Madam Speaker, I am going to share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for , and I will get to the heart of the matter right away. Today, we are debating the government's budget statement. This is a document that is supposed to set the government's direction for the next financial year. Clearly, that covers a wide range of subjects. I will try to limit myself to the topics that I find most important. At the outset, I want to say that, unfortunately, this budget is completely out of touch. I would like to be able to say otherwise, but the budget is completely out of touch, perhaps because it was produced by the government's two main architects, the and the . They are out of touch with the reality of many Canadians. That is why we have a budget that is so completely out of touch. In a vote as important as this, I will not be able to give it my confidence, and so I will not be able to support this budget when the vote is called.
One of the main reasons for my disagreement is that the fiscal framework of this budget has completely missed the mark. The fiscal framework is missing many pieces and also leaves many things out, such as, for example, the sources of revenue. As a result, in my opinion, the fiscal framework is not up to the task. This is not just my opinion; the parliamentary budget officer is also openly criticizing this framework. For example, there is the fact that, where certain items forecast expenditures for programs and for the public service, no provision has been made for the collective agreements signed with the public service. There are therefore major gaps in the budget in terms of the government's spending estimates. That might indicate to us a gentle austerity in the future, if the government wants to stand by the budget framework that it has published in its budget. A framework of that kind does not hold water when it relies on a number of forecasted factors in the future. The parliamentary budget officer has said so as well.
Budget 2018 also really lacks courage. The Liberals did not have the courage to go after those who are profiting from the current system, according to Canadians, specifically corporate executives. They are continuing and will continue to pocket millions thanks to preferred rates that average taxpayers who pay their taxes every year do not have access to. Average taxpayers do not have this advantage because they are not corporate executives who receive stock options. We could also talk about the multinational corporations that will continue to benefit from our weak tax laws that allow them to move their profits offshore and then repatriate some of that money without paying taxes in Canada. This will continue, because there is nothing in the budget to pull the rug out from under those multinationals that are taking advantage of our tax system and the global tax system to avoid paying their fair share.
The Liberals also did not have the courage to stand up to web giants on the tax issue. Netflix, Facebook, and Google are not paying their fair share of taxes to our society. This is common knowledge and well documented. The and the also know this very well. They do not have the courage to do what other countries have done to stand up to these web giants. Even Quebec has done so, in its own way.
My colleague often speaks about protecting pensions. I also see that the Liberals lack the courage to protect Canadians' pensions by changing the law. This is a hot topic today. Companies like Sears continue to take advantage of this overly lax system and are shirking their responsibilities towards their employees and former employees.
This budget is also chock full of half measures and the government is just pretending that it is taking action. It is not enough to get my vote. Half measures, for example, are the many things that the Liberals promise will happen after the election. It is not the first time this has happened. Successive governments have done the same thing. They make promises that will be fulfilled after the next election, and thus the promises are conditional upon the incumbents being re-elected. That is not the way to govern. They should govern and keep their promises right away, while in government. There are also half measures concerning pharmacare. I mentioned it earlier when I asked my colleague a question. They are again promising that a new committee will study the issue even though the Standing Committee on Health is about to complete its own study.
The government is saying that it needs more evidence to show that this is a good option, even though the Liberals promised a national pharmacare program in 1998. They promised a pharmacare program 20 years ago and they are still not convinced it is a good idea. They always want to conduct a study before moving forward, and I am not convinced that this is really going to happen, given that they have failed to deliver on other promises, such as electoral reform. Obviously, I have very little confidence in this government's promises.
My colleague from , with whom I am sharing my time, will likely have a lot to say about pay equity. The Liberals promised pay equity but can we trust them? Will we really see this legislative change in the budget implementation bill? We will see. Of course, the money needed to close the gender wage gap in the federal public service is not provided for in the fiscal framework, which is a major omission. I therefore cannot support a flawed fiscal framework that leaves out such important things.
What is more, the announcement regarding local media is clearly inadequate. The $50 million that was promised is nothing but a half measure. It does not respond to concerns and does not give local media what they need to ensure that quality information is being disseminated to our regions, such as my riding of Sherbrooke where people read La Tribune. It is not enough.
There is also nothing in the budget to help reduce household debt, a recurring problem that we are always hearing about in the news. The rate of Canadian household debt is currently 171%. That means that the average Canadian family has $1.71 of debt for every dollar earned. Every time Statistics Canada publishes a report on that subject, the average debt-to-disposable-income ratio rises. However, there is nothing in the budget to address this situation, which the government has known about for a long time and which continues to get worse. The continues to ignore this problem, which is threatening the Canadian economy.
I would also say that this budget is disrespectful to the Standing Committee on Finance. I sat on this committee during the pre-budget review, during which the committee produced 92 recommendations. I obviously cannot read them all out, but I would like to share a few of them. The disregarded most of these recommendations in his budget.
I introduced a bill to exempt psychotherapeutic services from the goods and services tax, but this topic is not addressed in the budget. I gave my colleague, the , the opportunity to include my bill in his budget, but he chose not to do so, even though the Standing Committee on Finance recommended that such a bill be passed.
The following is recommendation 24 from the report of the Standing Committee on Finance regarding the Social Security Tribunal:
|| Review the Social Security Tribunal and consider restoring the following: Employment Insurance Boards of Referees, the EI Umpire, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) Review Tribunals, and the Pensions Appeals Board in an effort to restructure the system.
Unfortunately, there is no review in the budget of the Social Security Tribunal, which is extremely deficient. I think that most of my colleagues have cases in their riding offices and are aware of the tribunal’s delays and inadequacy.
As well, recommendation 26 refers to a high-quality, inclusive child care system. There is nothing about that in the budget. The government is not acting on this recommendation. Then, recommendation 41 refers to home energy retrofit renovations. There is nothing about that in the budget, although that would have been a very good item. The Standing Committee on Finance agreed on that.
As for recommendations 65 and 66, they urge support for air transportation. There is nothing in the budget on that. There is also nothing about short-line railways, which are important to us, in Sherbrooke. However, this was addressed in the Standing Committee on Finance report. Lastly, recommendation 91 calls for the infrastructure program to be simplified and improved so that it actually serves communities such as Sherbrooke. There is nothing on that in the budget either.
I appeal to the government to correct the situation if they want my support. Obviously, this budget does not deserve my confidence.
Madam Speaker, I am glad to be here in the House standing in support of women in Canada, who honestly have received the raw end of the deal.
Over the last year, our status of women committee has heard from countless witnesses about how far women in Canada have fallen behind. We heard from women who are burdened with university debt and have a very difficult time making it forward in the workplace. We heard from women about the lack of access to child care. We heard from women about the lifetime of earnings comprised either by precarious work or by the lack of pay equity. We also heard from elderly women who are living in deep poverty, and professional women who have worked all of their lives but in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith are finding themselves having to access homeless shelters. It is terrible.
For all the good words of the Liberal government, with the majority that it has, with the mandate it had to implement real action on feminism, and the long shopping list that women's organizations and witnesses at our status of women committee have been giving, I honestly expected so much more in the budget. I am going to run through some hits and misses in the budget.
The first one, and we heard this from women's organizations across the country, is the failure of the government to fund a universal, affordable child care program. We have had funding announcements in the past, but they are pushed way into the future. Women cannot wait 10 years to access affordable child care spaces. Zero new child care spaces have been funded in this budget.
Child care is a major missing piece from the budget. It is the number one thing the government could have done to help with affordability, prosperity for women, and getting them into the workplace. The experience in Quebec has shown that investments in this area are good for the economy. The Quebec model has almost paid for itself by virtue of the fact that 70% of women who want to be in the workplace are working and earning more money. They are spending in their local economy and they are being taxed. It is a good investment.
The International Monetary Fund, in talking about Canada specifically, said the same thing, as did the Conference Board of Canada and the Governor of the Bank of Canada. This is in addition to the fantastic NGOs that have been carrying the torch on this issue for so long. Canada would be in very good company with the rest of the developed world. It would certainly have a lot of allies if it would put its money where its mouth is and funded affordable child care.
Pay equity is another big piece. I was so honoured to stand with my colleague the member of Parliament for on the NDP's first opposition day motion which asked for the consent of the House to have the Liberal government agree to implement pay equity legislation. That was two years ago. It was a big win for us, but it was the same promise that had been made by Pierre Trudeau 40 years earlier. We are still waiting.
To have in the budget the announcement that there would be legislation was really like a sore consolation prize, because women have been waiting so long and the gap is real. We are glad to hear the re-announcement that there will be legislation. That is a checkmark, but it still is overdue and we have not seen the legislation yet. The big hole is there is no implementation funding at all.
Last year, the alternative federal budget put together by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recommended $10 million a year be spent to implement pay equity. That did not happen.
The Canadian Labour Congress recommended at a bare minimum that the government fund the establishment of a commissioner and some of the machinery that would be needed for the adjudication process. Again, there were zero dollars for that. The government, in saying it is still committed to pay equity but will not put any dollars in the budget, to me represents a great timidity on the part of the government and a failure to put its money where its mouth is.
A win that we did get in the budget is better support for sexual assault centres on campus. There is funding in place for the development of policies to prevent campus rape. This was a recommendation that arose from an earlier status of women study where we asked the Liberal government to lead the coordination of national policies to prevent campus rape.
My colleague the member of Parliament for , who is the NDP's youth critic and also the deputy women's equality critic and the critic for post-secondary institutions, has heard, as have many of us, from women on campus. If a female is born and raised in Vancouver, for example, and her big sister goes to UBC, she learns how sexual assault is dealt with on that campus. Then she may go across the country to Dalhousie University where she is away from her family for the first time, and there may be alcohol involved. Those first few weeks on campus are the most vulnerable time for a woman to be sexually assaulted. The policing, justice system, and the level of support may be different, which would make it worse.
There is no question Canada has a coordination problem around sexual violence, with the territories, provinces, and municipal governments. However, this is the first thing the government should have done. It took the Liberals several years to agree with us, but we are glad to see some money. Sadly, and this is a theme, the money will not appear for five years. Women should not have to wait to be safe on the campuses of our higher institutions.
Another very sad point is insufficient investment in public transit. This past week, I was at the United Nations, hearing about the level of commitment of countries to implement their United Nations' obligations on women's equality. The focus was rural woman. We heard again and again about the role of a safe, accessible, and affordable transit system for them to be able to get to work or medical appointments, to accept jobs they are offered, and absolutely to avoid another Highway of Tears in northern B.C. Women were hitchhiking because there was no other alternative and it ended lives, again and again.
My colleague, the member of Parliament for , has been raising the alarm on this, the loss of the long-standing and successful public transit system in Saskatchewan. This is a role for the federal government, and we really would have liked to see a significant investment in rural public transit. That is a big missing piece.
A win though, another one, is paid domestic violence leave. Many provinces have started to implement paid domestic violence leave, especially the New Democrat government in Manitoba. If a woman has to leave her husband because of violence in the home, she has the assurance from her employer that she is going to be able to take a few days paid leave while resettling her family or renting a new house, and she knows her job will be waiting for her when she comes back, let alone having a little bit of coverage.
To our disappointment, the 's offer last year was three days, unpaid. That is cheap for a government willing to spend on all kinds of things. That was mean-spirited. Because of the pressure of my colleague, the member of Parliament for , when she was in her role as our labour critic, and of the labour movement in Canada, we are very glad that the government was persuaded in this budget to fund five days of paid leave. It is the least we can do. Few women will take it up, but it will make a big difference to those who do and their families.
Use it or lose it parental leave was another win. It has been shown in other countries that when men take parental leave it locks them in early to some of the domestic care issues. They are changing diapers and looking after the home. If they do not take that leave, then it is gone. It is not the kind of thing we have right now where the father and mother can split the leave.
The former NDP leader, the member for , and I wrote to the back in September urging him to take this on. We are very glad he took our advice and we think it is a win for families. However, it is tempered by the fact that the budget did not fix employment insurance parental leave benefits. When working families cannot earn enough hours to be eligible to take that paid parental leave, it means that once again the better off middle-class people the loves to support get that access, but the poorest people who need it the most just cannot get a foot in the door. It is unfair. We have registered this with the government many times, and it is a problem that it has still not closed that gap.
It is the same with unemployment insurance for precarious part-time work. We have heard from witnesses at committee again and again that women are more likely to work part time. One may be a full-time teller or cashier, but that is not going to get them enough hours each week to be able to qualify for employment insurance, let alone benefits and a pension. This is the nature of the working world, the tells us. He said to young people to get used to it. Honestly, if the has admitted this is a for sure thing, we must fix our employment insurance system. Given the government's commitments, it should want to do that.
The government has a mandate, has a great amount of goodwill, and talks a good talk on feminism. We would have really liked to see more action and the government putting its money where its mouth is on women's equality.