The House resumed consideration of the motion that , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill , the budget implementation bill. It is a daunting task, given the bill is over 500 pages and amends 44 pieces of legislation. It is an omnibus bill for sure, which is unfortunate in and of itself.
What is even more unfortunate is that the bill does not include all the things the government put forward in the budget. Just prior to getting up to give my speech, I made a comment about the fact that the pay equity legislation was not included and no dollars were in the budget to implement that pay equity legislation should it eventually come. This is disappointing.
The bill misses bringing a lot more needed change to address the inequity in the lives of people, to ensure the change that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, and the change we need to build an economy that is working for everyone, not just a few.
Child care, housing, and affordable prescription medication are the three issues that my constituents in Saskatoon West see as a need for real change, and fast. I raised these same issues in my very first speech as an elected member of Parliament. Three budgets later, I am still raising these issues, and those whom I represent are still waiting for the promised change.
Many in my riding had high hopes that the Liberals, given their promises on the campaign trail, would have moved the needle substantially on all three issues by this point in their mandate.
Let us start with child care. There are zero new dollars for child care in this budget. To date, the government's investment in child care has been more symbolic than anything. It is not a priority for the government. If it were, three budgets later we would not be talking about the lack of affordable and accessible child care.
In December of last year, I had the honour of meeting with an extraordinary group of women. They were participants in the trade journey program at the YWCA in Saskatoon. The trade journey program is a bridging program for women who are seeking a career in one of three trades: carpentry, plumbing, or electrical. I was invited to share some of my tips and, dare I say, survival skills for working in a male-dominated profession. My workplace was politics and their soon-to-be workplaces would be in the skilled trades.
As often is the case, I find myself so impressed and in awe of the determination of these women and their tenacity in the face of the both personal and institutional challenges of sexism and racism. As with almost 99.99% of the conversations I have with women in my riding, the conversation turned to child care. They were emphatic of the need for and the importance of affordable and accessible child care to their success as journey persons. They just could not understand why the government did not understand how critical child care was to their success in the workplace and to the health and well-being of themselves and their families. I agreed with them. I really did not have an answer for them as to why, regardless of what political party was in power, women continued to have to fight for child care.
The fight continues as we once again see a federal government paying lip service to one, if not the one, social policy that would improve the lives of so many women in our country and really increase the productivity of the country as a whole. A truly feminist government would understand this and by now would have invested what was needed to bring about real change for women.
Let me turn to affordable prescription medication. Almost a million Canadians give up food and heat to afford prescriptions in Canada. Affordable prescription medication is key to the health and well-being of all Canadians, to a sustainable universal health care system, and to the people in my riding of Saskatoon West. In conversation with older adults in my riding, the high costs of medication always comes up. It is raised because of the challenges of living on a fixed income and with that, the challenges of maintaining a home or an apartment, to be able to pay rent or a mortgage, and to pay for medication.
What happens, as was documented in a recent study, because of the unaffordability of medication? People get sick, they stay sick, and they end up going to the doctor for multiples visits and, in some cases, even end up in the hospital.
More than 1.6 million Canadians, just over 8% of people who were prescribed medication in Canada, did not fill their prescriptions or skipped doses because they could not afford it. In a riding with a median income below $40,000 a year, I represent a lot of people who are doing just that: skipping doses or not filling prescriptions at all. The UBC study that surveyed over 28,000 people found that people without insurance, lower-income people, and young people were more likely to struggle to afford medication. Women were twice as likely as men to report that they struggle to afford medication, as were indigenous people.
Canada is the only country with a universal health care system that does not include free access to prescription medication. It is time, after studying the issue to death, by governments, researchers, by Parliaments, to stop kicking the proverbial can down the road. I would like to use a phrase made famous by a certain shoe company, “Let's just do it”. However, instead we are going to study it again and offer ourselves further advice. It is time that the government moved from the hope to the hard work of pharmacare.
The only people benefiting from yet again more talk, more consultation, and no action are the pharmaceutical companies, which continue to gouge Canadians and the health care system. Canadians pay some of the highest drug costs in the world. If, right now, Canadians were paying even just the average prescription drug costs of OECD companies, we would have paid $3.6 billion last year. Instead, we paid $13.7 billion. That is a lot of home care services. That is a lot of money to address the crisis in mental health for young people.
Most of us are tired of hoping and wishing for the day of a universal prescription drug plan for all Canadians. It is time to stop giving excuses and start the work of implementing pharmacare in this country.
My final comments on the trifecta of challenges that folks in my riding face are on housing.
Last November, the highly anticipated national housing strategy was released. However, in the budget implementation act, we see no new legislation. The clearly stated at the launch of the national housing strategy that housing rights are human rights. However, instead of legislation and debate on a bill to legislate the right to housing, we continue with consultation. I believe that we need much more hard work on this file. We need more specifics. We need promised new investment now and not years down the road, and certainly not after the next federal election.
To elaborate, the $40-plus billion of planned spending connected to the national housing strategy over the next 10 years only budgeted $11.2 billion of new money. The rest of the funding envelope is a rearranging of current programs, loan funding, and of course the important matching funding from the provinces and territories.
The government's response to what, for many, is a crisis in affordability and a rising number of people living on the street is not good enough. We have a minimal investment of new dollars, the largest allocation of new investment coming three years down the road, and we have a huge 10-year horizon for the investment. The speed and the amount of the investment does not match the urgency faced by many communities, including my own. When we look at the amount of investment specifically focused on those Canadians with no roof over their heads, and the target number of reducing the number of Canadians who are homeless by 50% over 10 years, we do not see a government with the resources or the plan in place to truly recognize housing as a human right.
We know that the growing number of Canadians living on the street without the safety and security of a place to call home are often young people, and a large number of those young people are those who have aged out of the foster care system and are LGBTQ2 youth. We must speed up the investment. We must set more aggressive targets. We must work harder and set a much more courageous timeline if we are to make a difference in the lives of these young Canadians.
We are still waiting for a separate strategy for indigenous people living in urban centres. We saw a very modest amount of funding in the previous budget, but no detail.
Sorry, I did not realize that I had run out of time. I look forward to offering more during questions.
Madam Speaker, it is always good to hear from my colleague from Saskatchewan. I think we share priorities in terms of child care, affordable housing, and pharmacare. On the issue of child care, it is not this budget that she should look to, but the budget of 2016, which invested $7.5 billion over the next 10 years. Those accords have been signed with the provinces. That money is being spent. In my province, 100,000 new regulated day care spaces are being funded as a direct result of that budget.
On the issue of pharmacare, I agree that it is not being implemented immediately. There is a strategic plan being produced by a panel of experts that will show us exactly how to do that. I invite her to be standing in this House next year when we do just that, in terms of acting on those recommendations.
On the issue of affordable housing, I am gobsmacked. I remind the member opposite that her party only promised $40 million for homelessness over four years, which was $10 million extra a year. In our very first budget, we spent $100 million more than the previous year. We doubled it from $100 million to $200 million, which means we are going to be spending $400 million on homelessness over the four years of our term of office, not the paltry, meek, timid $40 million promised by her government.
Where it really gets me is when she says there is no new money for housing in this budget. There is close to $2 billion that is new for rental housing in this budget. If we look at her platform in the previous election, the final three years of their mandate there was zero, zero, zero. That is the NDP platform they think we should follow as bold advice.
Is she serious that no money is being spent, or is she just pretending that no money is being spent to make a political argument?
Madam Speaker, what a pleasure and privilege it is to be able to stand in this chamber and speak to the budget implementation bill. It is a bill that continues to build on what I believe is a very progressive government that understands how important it is to support Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, to give a helping hand in trying to deal with the issue of tax inequities by having a special tax on Canada's wealthiest one per cent. We have had so many accomplishments in such a short period of time. I have said this in the past and I will repeat it now. Under this particular government, we have seen so much take place in terms of budgetary measures and legislative measures, which have had a positive and profound impact on supporting those who need it the most, Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.
When I listen to opposition members, if I may focus on the Conservatives first and foremost, there are two things that I have come to realize. The talked about it at our wonderful convention that we had over the weekend. One of those is the fact that there is no change with the Conservative Party. It is almost as if Stephen Harper is still leading the party. It is absolutely amazing to see how much the Conservatives still remain out of touch with what Canadians expect of government. When I look at the ideas that the Conservatives attempt to bring over to this side of the House, it can be confusing at times. Last week, for example, we were supposed to talk about the priorities of the government. As members will recall, the members of the official opposition did not want to debate Bill . Today the Conservatives are saying that they want to debate it more, yet last Monday they did not want to debate it. In fact, they brought in a motion to deal with another report as opposed to the budget. I can understand why. I can appreciate that they see how effective our budgets have been since we have taken governance.
We have worked with Canadians. We have empowered Canadians through things such as tax breaks, the Canada child benefit, something that will be indexed because of this piece of legislation. We are working with and supporting Canadians. We are supporting our communities through infrastructure dollars, with record amounts of money going into Canada's infrastructure in every region of our country. By doing that, we are giving additional strength to Canada's middle class and building our economy. By working with Canadians, we are seeing some amazing numbers. Most important is in the area of jobs. There are 600,000-plus jobs that have been created in just over two years by this government in working with many different stakeholders, in particular Canadians in every region of our country. I believe that this government has been acting on what we committed to Canadians back in 2015, and that was real change. We have seen that day in and day out, in terms of the different types of policies we have debated inside this chamber, and most importantly shared with Canadians coast to coast to coast.
I want to pick up on one issue that has been very important to me personally, and I know has been also very important to my daughter Cindy, who is an MLA in the Manitoba legislature. That is the issue of pharmacare. The pharmacare issue embodies what I believe is a very important and progressive step forward that we need to take, that we have been waiting for generations to see some tangible movement on. This along with this cabinet and caucus believe that we need to advance the idea. In fact, we had a standing committee, made up of members from all sides of this House, which reported last week some ideas in terms of how we can advance the idea of “one prescription”, where prescription drugs would be part of the Canada health system.
Canadians want our national government to demonstrate some leadership on this issue, and I believe we have. Earlier today, we heard the talk about some of the interim measures we have taken to ensure that prescription drugs are more affordable. At the constituency level, there have been many petitions and many discussions. In fact, in the last number of months I have tabled many petitions dealing with a strong national pharmacare program. If there ever was a reason to believe that it is actually doable, all one needs to do is take a look at what the government has done on a couple of specific initiatives in the last two years, in particular the Canada child benefit program.
I believe the government today has put into place, through the Canada child benefit program, a fantastic social program that has lifted tens of thousands of children out of poverty. We were able to do that in a relatively quick fashion.
On the issue of pharmacare, we recognize that there is a responsibility on the part of the national government to work with the different stakeholders. That is why, in the most recent budget, we see that there has been a task force of sorts put together, headed by a former minister of health in the Province of Ontario, to look at ways of possibly implementing a national pharmacare program.
We just came through a fantastic convention in Halifax, where Atlantic hospitality was at its best. I was very proud to listen to the speech delivered by the . If some of my colleagues across the way want to get a good sense of what has been taking place in the last couple of years, I would highly recommend that they YouTube it. I am sure they will enjoy it. There were 3,000-plus Liberals in Halifax who loved it.
Personally, I really enjoyed the fact that every constituency was represented. I believe there were 3,000 Liberals attending, and I think 50% of those were individuals who were attending a national convention for the first time. The number of young people attending that convention was truly amazing.
The number one resolution was on pharmacare. The Liberal Party, under the leadership of our current , has recognized the value of yet another fantastic social program. For those who try to cast doubt on the desire and the drive of the government, I would recommend they take a look at what we have accomplished in the last two years, in particular with the Canada child benefit.
I believe there is the opportunity for Canadians to have hope once again that after many years of no leadership on the health care file, we finally have a , a , and a government caucus who are committed to finding out if we can make this happen. If we can make it happen, it will happen.
We are working hard and being diligent in crossing the t's, dotting the i's, working with the different levels of government, and working with Canadians to find out what they would like to see and how we might be able to proceed on this particular file.
An hon. member: More, more.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: There is lots more. There is not enough time. That is the problem.
When I think about what we have been able to accomplish, I think about about the tax breaks for small business, an issue that is so important. The has talked a great deal about small business being the backbone of Canada's economy, and reducing that small business tax was an important step. It is consistent with what we did in the first budget through the middle-class tax cut, by supporting guaranteed income supplement increases to our seniors, and by enhancing the Canada child benefit program, as no other government has done previously.
We have put more disposable income in the pockets of Canadians in every region of our country, thereby supporting small businesses, because they are the great consumers. Those small businesses cultivate the economy, generating the jobs that are necessary.
There is so much more I could say, but unfortunately my time has come to an end. It has been a privilege to address yet another great budget.
Madam Speaker, it is all clear now, right? I was just trying to speak as loudly as he was speaking.
Today the Parliamentary Budget Officer issued his report. It is timely, as we are debating the budget bill. Of course, I would remind all my listeners out there that today the government brought in closure so it could stifle debate, because there are a lot of issues, as has been pointed out by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
Very clearly, when the government was over there, it was telling Canadians that it would not increase the deficit by more than $10 billion and would be bringing in a balanced budget by 2019. These were the promises the Liberals made. Today the Parliamentary Budget Officer said quite clearly that everything they did was wrong. Their projections were wrong. The estimates are wrong. They are fooling Canadians by using different numbers. It is good that the Parliamentary Budget Officer talked about it today.
Most importantly, he talked about the carbon tax the Liberals are forcing on all Canadians and all the provinces, and the fact that the carbon tax is supposed to be good for the economy and the country. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has quite clearly stated that the way they are going is not the right approach.
Let me be very clear on one issue in reference to carbon taxes. All of us want clean air. All of us look out for the environment. We live in this country. It is our environment. We want a clean environment, but not the way the Liberals are going, by forcing carbon taxes on provinces that do not want them. Saskatchewan does not want it, and the, hopefully, Conservative government in Ontario does not want it. The, hopefully, Conservative government, in Alberta does not want it. Then, lo and behold, we have the government in British Columbia being held hostage by three Green members.
Three Green members are holding hostage the whole of Canada on the Trans Mountain pipeline. Premier Horgan will not agree because he would lose the government. He does not want to go to the people. If he is so confident about speaking to the Trans Mountain pipeline, and all the polls are showing that British Columbians want it, someone just said that the easiest way to resolve it is to go to the people. That is the best way in a democracy. He would probably find that he would get a pink slip to go back to the unemployment line.
However, the question here is about the government and its budget. We just heard the government side talk about reducing taxes for the middle class. We hear the Liberals talk about it here, but we never hear them talk about their increase in taxes, the payroll taxes. Actually, the great indication by the Fraser Institute showed how much Canadians are paying in direct and indirect taxes. It is what they call “freedom day”. For the first time in the history of our country, under the previous Conservative government, we pulled that back into June. The date was sometime in June because of our reduction of taxes, but under this government, freedom day has gone back into July. That is the real issue.
That is where it really shows where the government, by not by showing the whole picture, is raising taxes. We have had a serious problem over here on this fact. The Liberals are just blindly spending money.
One of the key issues I talked about last time was the government of China's infrastructure bank. We have already given half a billion dollars to it. Why is that? Why are we giving it to that bank? It does not do anything good for us. It is great for China, but not for us. We already contributed to the African Development Bank, to the Asian Development Bank, and to the Inter-American Development Bank. We are already doing our bit to help countries through these development banks. Why are we following this with a half a billion dollars?
These are questions Canadians are asking. Where is our money going? Why does the deficit keep increasing?
The Liberals came out with infrastructure funding. However, in a province like mine, Alberta, we do not know what the government is doing. Where is this infrastructure funding going?
The issue here is on the fundamental issues of economic progress, and in this case it is the Trans Mountain pipeline, which everybody agrees is good for Canada. Of course, the NDP members do not agree, but that is all right; they are a small bunch. The fact remains that it is good for the country. However, the question is on leadership. This is where leadership needs to be shown, and it is not coming from the government. We have waited and waited, but nothing is happening.
We agree that we also want a clean environment, but there are ways and means of doing that, and it is not in stifling economic growth. When jobs and economic growth are lost what happens? The budget goes up and taxes go up. Somewhere down the line, we will have to pay this deficit.
Let us look at the deficit. The PBO came out and said that there would be a $22.1 billion shortfall this fiscal year. The Liberals projected $18.1 billion. Again, according to the Liberals' figures, the projected deficit would be $17.5 billion. However, the PBO projects $21.4 billion. The total is a $8 billion difference in deficit. Also, according to the PBO, there is a 5% chance of the budget being balanced by 2025. However, the Liberals are not interested in that, because, after all, when they lose power, they will leave this whole mess behind.
We left the economy in very good standing, and the Liberals quoted all these figures. I remember when they wanted change in Canada and sunny ways, but as they progressed, all the policies we had put in place they carried on with and implemented. Why? Because they were good policies. Despite the fact that the Liberals keep trying to blame the Conservatives for everything, it is not going to fly. They had good management from us when they took over. When they are gone, and hopefully we will take over, we will have to clean up their mess and look at the deficit.
Canadians are concerned where the government is going. What is the purpose of the government? Back home in Africa, we say that the ostrich has its head in the sand. The Liberals have their heads in the sand. They are not looking around at what is going on. They will not answer to the future generation, because they will not be around.
However, the issue is always on how we bring confidence to Canadian businesses. It is interesting that in Lima, the said that big projects would go ahead. Well, big projects are not going ahead in our country under the current government.
The Liberals keep talking about Conservatives not building pipelines. We built the environment where the energy industry grew up. The Liberals are running something where the energy industry is going down under their leadership. However, it is good to see that the NDP government in Alberta agrees with us.
The fact is that we need common-sense policies, but they are not coming from the Liberals. We cannot expect any common-sense policies coming from that side.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of Bill , an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018, and other measures.
First, I would like to talk about why this bill is so important to Canada as a whole. Then I will highlight some of the specific measures that will help my beautiful riding of West Nova and, most important, its people.
This budget continues to build on the strong foundation for growth that our government began putting into place when it took office just over two years ago. In that time, Canada's economic growth has been fuelled by the middle class, and there has been more support for those working hard to join it. Because of the hard work of Canadians, together with historic investments in people and communities, more than 600,000 good new jobs have been created right across Canada. Most of these are solid, full-time jobs. Consequently, under this government, the Canadian unemployment rate is at its lowest in my lifetime.
Also, Canada now has the best balance sheet of any G7 country, with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio, and the downward trend of that ratio will continue into the future. Our debt as a portion of our economy is shrinking steadily and will soon reach its lowest point ever in my lifetime.
However, while the Canadian economy is doing very well, the most important indicator for any government is not some economic formula, but rather how people are doing. Do people have the tools to lift themselves up, to make their communities stronger and more vibrant, to be secure in the knowledge that they will have a dignified retirement, to help children living in poverty, to ensure veterans are looked after, and to ensure we position Canada to allow our industries to flourish?
While we know the economy is doing well and that thing are on the right track, we also know there is much more work to do so all Canadians have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, indeed, so people end up doing well. Our government wants a real and fair shot at success for all our people.
Let us start with the Canada workers benefit. Budget 2018 introduces the new Canada workers benefit, a more generous and accessible benefit that will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers than the income tax benefit it replaces. For example, a worker making $15,000 a year will get about $500 more in 2019. By allowing these low-income workers to keep more of their paycheque, it encourages more people to enter the workforce and it will deliver real help to two million Canadians, including 45,000 Nova Scotians who are working hard to join the middle class. This new measure will lift about 70,000 working individuals out of poverty and will promote economic independence for so many who would otherwise be left behind.
Let us turn to the Canada child benefit. Speaking of lifting people out of poverty and giving them opportunity, the CCB was introduced in 2016 and provides more support for nine out of 10 Canadian families. With the measures in budget 2018, the six million children currently benefiting from the CCB will continue to benefit for the long term, because it will be indexed, starting this July, to keep up with the cost of living.
In West Nova, the effects of the CCB are real. Thirteen thousand children are benefiting and over $4.5 million each month are being invested in the well-being of the kids in my riding. As a result, hundreds and hundreds of children in western Nova Scotia are no longer living in poverty and many are now able to receive adequate school supplies, join minor hockey, take dance or music lessons, have warm clothes for the winter, or go to summer camp. This is real and this is making a substantial difference in the lives of children in West Nova while also helping our local economy.
Let us talk about security retirement for our seniors. Like many members of rural ridings, I represent many seniors and I am so pleased that our government supports them. While there is more work to do, we restored the eligibility age of old age security and GIS from 67 to 65, and increased the GIS by 10% for single seniors. Also, working co-operatively with the provinces, the Canada pension plan has been strengthened for the long term. In fact, it will result in an increase of the maximum CPP retirement pension by about 50%, phased in over time, and it will mean even greater support to persons with disabilities who need support from their government.
As the member of Parliament for West Nova, an area with Canada's most lucrative fishery in lobster, scallops, and other seafood, it is critical to me that the fishing industry, which is the backbone of the economy in southwestern Nova Scotia, is supported. That is why I, along with other colleagues, have been advocating for increased investments in our small craft harbours to allow for the continued growth of fisheries operations.
I am very pleased the government has responded in budget 2018 with an investment of an extra $250 million over two years into our critical harbour infrastructure. This will help expand capacity and support the flourishing seafood industry being able to get its product off the boats and to world markets.
We know that with the coming into force of the European trade deal, CETA, and now the CPTPP, the demand for our seafood exports will continue to grow. This will diversify our customer base and sustain the high prices our fishermen have been getting for their lobster and other high-quality seafood. This makes a huge difference to our local economy in southwestern Nova Scotia.
I am also fortunate not only to represent an area with one of Canada's most important fisheries, but also to represent 14 Wing Greenwood, the largest air force base on the east coast. As a result, I represent many veterans all across my riding. It is vitally important that we support them for all they have done in their service to Canada. We know there is lots more to do, and we know that some may not yet know about the investments being made, but we are on the right track, and we are making things better for our veterans.
The government has made substantial investments to benefits and services for veterans and their families, so far totalling $10 billion. This includes new education and training benefits and expanded services to families of medically released veterans. We have reopened offices, increased the earnings loss benefit, and the disability award. There will be an option for a pension for life rather than the lump sum amount. There will be more front-line staff, more for mental health, and a new caregiver benefit for those taking care of ill and injured veterans.
Budget 2018 will expand the medical expense tax credit to include the cost of psychiatric service dogs that are so important in the support they provide to many of our veterans.
We know there is more to do, and I am committed to working with our government and continuing to advocate for the veterans I represent, but the fact is clear that we have made substantial investments and we are really beginning to fix the damaged system left to us by the Conservative government.
I am proud of the Acadian communities in West Nova, and I fully support them in protecting and promoting their cultural heritage, as well as our official languages.
Our government recognizes the importance of supporting official languages across Canada and is serious about its duty to actively promote the development of official language minority communities. We recently announced an action plan for official languages, which represents the largest investment in official languages in over 15 years. We have listened to the needs of these communities, and budget 2018 meets their expectations.
Our budget will invest in our community and cultural organizations, such as the Société acadienne de Clare, the Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas, and the Université Sainte-Anne in my riding of West Nova, so they can continue their important work preserving and promoting Acadian culture and the French language in my riding.
Budget 2018 will support radio stations and newspapers like CIFA and Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Despite the challenges faced by francophone media outlets in minority communities, they continue to offer content that reflects the French-speaking Acadian community they serve.
When we look at this bill to implement budget 2018, we see a vision for the future of Canada, one that builds on the foundation already laid by this government and one that continues to invest in our communities and their people so that all Canadians have a real and fair shot at success no matter what circumstances they were born into, so they can have a dignified retirement. It is a budget that continues to sustain our strong economic performance well into the future and keeps Canada on top as the very best country in the world.
That is why I am proudly supporting Bill .
Madam Speaker, this budget is another failure by the Liberal and his : more taxes, more debt, and more spending that does not offer solutions for hard-working Canadians. Instead, it saddles us, our children, our grandchildren, and even our great-grandchildren with billions of dollars' worth of debt at a time when interest rates are rising.
Budget 2018 was a huge opportunity for the . The world economy is roaring, but the Liberal government is failing to turn this favourable climate into results for Canadians. Instead, the Prime Minister is raising taxes on over 90% of Canadian middle-class families, and this budget announces new tax hikes on local businesses.
The Liberals are also borrowing an additional $18 billion, which actually has now risen to $22 billion since this morning, which is adding another $22 billion in deficit to the budget. However, despite all the spending, middle-class Canadians are no further ahead and Canada's GDP growth will slow to 2% by the end of the year.
After the budget was presented, I spoke with the chairs of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. Their words speak volumes about the measures in this failed budget.
Greg Durocher, the president and CEO of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, said, “This seems to be a typical budget from a government that has seen better days in the battlefield. As a result of the massive campaign led by the chamber movement across the country, there was some moderate tweaking of the passive income tax calculation for small business owners. The real problem with this legislation is that it is not going to achieve the objectives they intended it to. You cannot get to the wealthiest 1% by targeting middle-class entrepreneurs, it is simply wrong and will still cost small business owners $1 billion taken out of our economy. There is nothing to make Canadian business more competitive given the massive tax reductions in the United States, our biggest competitor, and possible derailing of NAFTA talks which would cause a travesty in Canada for the business community. Supporting female entrepreneurs is a good thing, but frankly it is a shame we have to do this, and gender equality should be a foregone conclusion.”
He went on to say, “We are still very much concerned with a government who simply believes that a spending spree will be good for Canadians, and more importantly, good for our future leaders. We cannot continue to spend more than we take in. The time was right during the recession of 2008-09. Now, when the government itself says our economy is good, is the time to eliminate deficits, pay down debt and provide relief for businesses and individuals who are still struggling to grow and get into the prosperity of the economy this government keeps talking about.”
I am not sure I could have said it much better myself.
I also heard from Art Sinclair, the vice-president of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce who had this to say:
Small businesses across Waterloo Region and Canada need a tax system that is fair and straight-forward in its application. Our chamber has been consistently informed by our membership that new rules are making the system more complex and time consuming for companies who should be focused on growth and job creation.
This budget fails Canadians in many areas, but let me focus on three for the next few minutes.
First is infrastructure. This government campaigned on increasing spending on infrastructure, a promise that was popular across Canada. However, what we have seen is that even though this government is spending at record levels, very little is going into infrastructure. Meanwhile, the government is squandering $35 billion on a new Asian infrastructure bank that helps wealthy investors and ignores Canadians who want shorter commute times. In fact, this budget indicated the Liberal government is planning on cutting funding for infrastructure over the next few years.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer wrote in the report entitled “Budget 2018: Issues for Parliamentarians”:
Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the Government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan. PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist. Roughly one-quarter of the funding allocated for infrastructure from 2016-17 to 2018-19 will lapse. Both legacy and new infrastructure programs are prone to large lapses.
It is another broken promise by the Liberals.
Second, I will talk about the carbon tax. Over 200 pages of the budget bill create a complicated and costly new carbon tax in all provinces that do not already have their own.
That tax would raise the cost of heat, gas, groceries, and everything else that Canadians need. A carbon tax would not work. Carbon taxes do not decrease emissions. They hurt the national economy by increasing the cost of living, all the while making the country less competitive globally. In fact, just today, as I mentioned, the Parliamentary Budget Officer announced that a carbon tax would take $10 billion from our Canadian economy.
Knowing all of this, the Liberal government is moving ahead with this bad decision. Unfortunately, that is not even half the problem. The Liberal government knows full well how much the carbon tax would cost the average family, but it refuses to let Canadians know. Officials from the Department of Finance have let us know that we can expect to see an 11¢ increase per litre on gasoline, and an extra $264 for natural gas home heating per year, with oil heating costs being even more. Trevor Tombe at the University of Calgary estimated that the carbon tax would mean $1,100 in additional costs per family. Other estimates are as high as $2,500 per family, just from the carbon tax implementation. That might not sound like a lot of money to the members opposite, but I have spent 12 years in this House making sure that my constituents in Kitchener—Conestoga get to keep more of their hard-earned money in their own pockets, not less, and I will keep fighting that fight.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer wrote the following in the most recent economic and fiscal outlook:
Implementation of the federal government's carbon pricing levy will generate a headwind for the Canadian economy over the medium term as the levy rises from $10 per tonne of [carbon dioxide] equivalent in 2018 to $50 per tonne in 2022.
Based on analysis conducted by the Ecofiscal Commission, we project that real GDP will be 0.5 per cent lower in 2022 than it would otherwise be. This amounts to $10 billion in 2022.
Therefore, not only would families be paying more, but our economy would be guaranteed to suffer as well as a result. The government also knows whether its carbon tax would decrease emissions, but again we get no answers. My colleague, the hon. member for , has asked time and time again, and I will ask it now: What exactly does the Liberal government have to hide?
Third is the national debt and out-of-control spending. Canada started the new fiscal year on April 1, 2018 with a trillion dollars worth of market debt. This is the total debt upon which the Government of Canada pays interest. The net debt is $669 billion. We all remember during the 2015 election campaign when the , then the leader of the third party, promised that, if elected, a Liberal government would run a small deficit and return to balance by 2019. Instead, the deficits have been twice what he promised. Finance Canada now projects deficits for another 25 years, totalling almost half a trillion dollars.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer, in his review of budget 2018, had this to say in regard to the growing deficit and debt:
Despite commitments made in the Minister of Finance's mandate letter and in Budget 2016, the Government has not explicitly mentioned its fiscal anchors of balancing the budget and continuing to reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio in subsequent Fall Economic Statements or budgets, including Budget 2018.
The Liberal deficits today will require massive new tax increases soon after the election. Canadians will pay more tax to fund interest payments to wealthy lenders. That is money that is not being spent on our veterans, health care, national defence, or on real tax relief for the middle class.
We, as Conservatives, have a positive vision for our country. We on this side of the House have introduced legislation that supports young families, new parents, and persons with disabilities. We introduced legislation that provides more transparency about how taxpayer money is spent, and we will always support policies that create jobs and grow our economy. We will remove red tape and remove obstacles that are in the way of young entrepreneurs who are trying to start and to grow their business. I know that our leader, the , has his private member's bill up for debate soon. I hope that members across the way will support this common sense legislation that would actually help new families, not saddle them with higher taxes.
This budget has been described by some as an election budget. While the Liberals are focused on trying to get re-elected, I will keep focusing on the hard-working people in Kitchener, Wellesley, Woolwich, and Wilmot. The people in my riding know how to work hard and contribute to the improvement of our community. I want to see them rewarded for their efforts, not saddled with mountains of debt.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House and discuss measures we are introducing through Bill . The bill proposes important measures related to our budget 2018. With our latest budget, we are putting people first and ensuring equality and fairness for all Canadians.
We are doing this in a number of ways. These include initiatives that allow for more equal share of parental leave, an initiative to support the participation of women in the workforce, and the introduction of proactive pay equity legislation in federally regulated sectors.
We are also working hard to support Canada's most vulnerable segments of society, including seniors. The measures introduced in Bill help to do just that. It is no secret that Canada's population is aging, and Canadians are living longer and more healthy lives. This increasing longevity is good news and should be celebrated, because it brings with it more wisdom, expertise, and experience in society. However, this demographic shift also means that we need to adjust our policies and programs to ensure they remain relevant.
We have a growing seniors population, with over six million people who are 65 years of age or older. In the next 25 years, that number is estimated to almost double, to 11 million people, representing one-quarter of Canada's population. There is no doubt that private and public institutions alike must adapt, as the significant demographic shift creates new opportunities as well as challenges.
Our government places enormous value on the contribution that seniors have made and will continue to make in our communities, workplaces, families, and our country. It goes without saying that they should have access to income security that will allow them to live a safe, secure, and dignified retirement.
We have already taken concrete steps to ensure that seniors will have that dignified retirement. In the area of income security, it is well known that we have restored the eligibility age for old age security and guaranteed income supplement from age 67 back to 65, and for allowance benefits from age 62 back to 60. This is putting thousands of dollars into the pockets of Canadian seniors and keeping approximately 100,000 future seniors from falling into poverty. Since 2016, we have also increased the top-up of the guaranteed income supplement payment by $947 per year for single recipients. This has improved the financial security of close to 900,000 vulnerable seniors and is lifting approximately 13,000 seniors out of poverty. Seventy per cent of those seniors happen to be women. We are also ensuring that senior couples who receive GIS and allowance benefits and live apart for reasons beyond their control, for example, because of long-term care requirements, can receive higher benefits based on their individual incomes.
The Canada pension plan is one of the most important parts of our social support system. It is with great pride that I remind the House that in March 2017, our government enacted legislative changes to enhance the Canada pension plan to ensure greater financial security for future seniors by increasing CPP retirement benefits, and providing larger benefits for disabled contributors, widows, and widowers. The amount that Canadians pay into the plan before retirement will gradually rise over a seven-year period, starting in 2019. Increased benefits will build up gradually with each year of contributions to the CPP enhancement. When workers who participated in the enhancement for their entire careers collect retirement pensions, the CPP enhancement will increase the maximum CPP retirement pension by approximately 50%. These CPP enhancements mean more money for Canadians when they retire, so they can worry less about their savings and focus more on enjoying time with their families.
With the action taken by Quebec to enhance the Quebec pension plan in a similar fashion, all Canadians can now look forward to a safer and more secure retirement.
Building on that success, as part of the 2016-18 triennial review, federal and provincial ministers of finance agreed to more changes that will improve the CPP without increasing legislated contribution rates. These changes will provide further support from CPP enhancements for parents and people with disabilities. In our latest budget, we have confirmed that the government would move forward with these changes in 2019, in addition to those established through the CPP enhancements. With Bill we would put our promise to Canadians in action to create a better CPP for seniors today and into the future. This is why we are asking for the House's full support of Bill C-74.
The changes we are proposing in this bill include features that would protect the value of retirement benefits under the CPP enhancement for parents who take time off work to care for young children and for persons with disabilities. They also include a raise in the survivor's pension for individuals who become widowed under age 45 as well as a top-up benefit for disabled retirement pension recipients under the age of 65. We would increase the death benefit to its maximum value of $2,500 for all eligible contributors.
It is important to note that Bill would also make the required amendments to maintain portability between the CPP and the enhanced Quebec pension plan when those enhancements come into effect.
As I have stated, with budget 2018, we have committed to putting people first and ensuring quality and fairness for all Canadians. Part of that commitment means taking informed steps forward in our efforts to advance equality, especially for women, because we believe that equality between Canadian women and men will lead to greater prosperity. We are applying this lens to everything we do, and the changes we are proposing in Bill are no exception.
The changes we are making to the Canada pension plan are going to go a long way in supporting all future retirees, including, in particular, women. We know that women are more likely than men to take time away from work to raise their children, and let us not forget that women are also more likely to outlive their partners. We are making these changes because it is the right thing to do and is the smart thing to do to help seniors and advance equality for women to the benefit of all Canadians.
We know that Canadians work hard every day to support themselves and their families and to keep our economy growing. When it comes time to retire, Canadians deserve to do so with support from the very society they helped build and maintain. It goes without saying that Canadians should have access to income security that will allow them to live a safe, secure, and dignified retirement.
I am proud to say that through Bill , we would continue to make that goal a reality. I encourage my colleagues in this House to support this bill and help create a better retirement for those who work so hard, for this generation and for generations to come. We owe it to all Canadians to pass this bill.