That, given the Liberal government made a specific campaign promise to Canadians that "government data and information should be open by default, in formats that are modern and easy to use", the House hereby order that all documents be produced in their original and uncensored form indicating how much the federal carbon tax proposed in Budget 2018 will cost Canadian families in order to put an end to the carbon tax cover-up.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
As members know, the saga of the carbon tax cover-up has been ongoing now for several years, but today there are new developments. Just moments ago in the finance committee, we were studying Bill , the government's budget implementation act, 200 pages of which are dedicated to the creation of a national carbon tax. Before the committee were officials from the environment and finance departments. I asked specifically whether or not either of those departments had modelled how much that tax would cost the average Canadian family. The assistant deputy minister of finance confirmed that in fact the government has modelled that information. In other words, the government knows the price tag but it is covering it up, and that, in essence, is the carbon tax cover-up.
Now that I have given today's news, I will lay out the chronology of events.
In late 2015, the Liberal government was elected. It had promised to institute a new carbon tax. Soon after that, I filed what is called an access to information request asking the government what such a tax would cost families in varying income groups. What would it cost middle-class people? What would it cost people below the poverty line?
The government came back with a big pile of documents, which the member for will be mentioning in his speech. One of these documents indicates, “This memo focuses on the potential impact of a carbon price on households' consumption expenditures across the income distribution.” The key findings are blacked out.
I will translate this government-speak into plain English. The memo focused on the potential impact of a carbon price on households' consumption. This means that the memo calculates what the tax will cost people when they buy things. It mentions “across the income distribution”, which means that the table which is blacked out tells us what people would pay based on the incomes they earn.
We know that the share of a family's budget is largely determined by how much the family makes. For example, Statistics Canada has shown that poor families spend about a third more on the goods that the carbon tax will apply to than do rich households, because if one is extremely wealthy, then heat, electricity, groceries, while they still cost the same or even a little more than they do for a low-income household, they are a smaller share of the family's budget. This is why it is important to know how much people in various income levels will pay with this new tax.
We know that taxes of this nature are regressive, because they take a larger share of household income from people who have less money. Those with the least disproportionately pay the most. As a result, such taxes can have the effect of actually widening the gap between rich and poor. The government has claimed that it wants to reduce that gap, but it is imposing a tax which is known to do precisely the opposite.
Then we come to the use of the revenues. What is the government going to use the money for when it collects it?
In Ontario, the Wynne government has given the blueprint. For example, Ontario has used the money to provide $15,000 in rebates to millionaires who buy electric Mercedes and Teslas. This is an example of a tax applied to working-class and low-income people which is then fed to the wealthiest 1% who can afford to drive the most elite vehicles. In that same province, the government has used the revenues to subsidize companies that would otherwise be money losing. They have, for example, increased hydroelectricity rates by paying these companies that offer so-called solar and wind power onto the grid at 90¢ per kilowatt hour when that kilowatt hour is worth about 2.5¢.
The effect of that is to drive up the electricity costs of everyday Ontarians, while bolstering the profits of well-connected Bay Street insiders, who successfully conclude those inflated contracts with the Government of Ontario. In Ontario the inflation of electricity prices is going to constitute a cost of about $170 billion over 25 years, according to the province's auditor general, which will make it the biggest wealth transfer from the working poor to the super rich in Canadian history. That is a form of redistribution that is common among regimes that impose schemes like the one the government has embedded in its budget implementation legislation, all of which reminds us that we should as Canadian parliamentarians know how much this tax will cost every household.
The government says that it cannot reveal that information for two reasons. First, it says that, for example, the table that I referred to earlier, is not relevant because it is a couple of years old and so much has changed.
While the fundamental structure of the Canadian economy has changed, the amount and share that people spend on heating their homes, driving their cars, and feeding their families has not fundamentally changed in two years. That being said, if the government thinks it is so irrelevant, why not just release it? Why not just show the numbers to Canadians and then convince them that those numbers are completely irrelevant? Does the government not trust Canadians to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information? If it is obviously just a bunch of old numbers that have collected cobwebs over many months and years, then surely Canadians will just disregard it.
However, if the information in this table is based on a model of taxation that is in the current budget, then Canadians might, by contrast, say, “Wait a second. This is relevant. It is going to cost me a lot of money.” Then they may judge the government negatively for those costs. Maybe that is the real reason the government does not want to release the numbers.
The second reason the government is giving is it claims that this tax will be revenue neutral, that Canadians will get back the money somehow. It is the old trickle-down economics of socialist governments that it will take the money away from the working class and give it to the politicians. It will trickle down to the bureaucracy, and then it will trickle further down to the companies and interest groups that get the grants funded by those taxes, and eventually a few drops will trickle back down to the people who earned the money in the first place. This is the trickle-down government that we always see when parties of the far left take office.
If this is true, let us pretend for a moment that the government is telling the truth and that it plans to give all the money right back to the people who paid the tax in the first place. How can it prove that is the case if it will not tell us how much those same people will pay? We cannot judge whether the cost has been neutralized for an average family unless we know what that cost is, but the government will not tell us, which suggests that the government has a trick up its sleeve, that it wants this to be a money raiser, a cash grab, an issue of cold, hard cash for politicians to spend.
Canadians have seen this before in every province where this scheme has been implemented. In every single one, the governments have won and the taxpayers have lost. The politicians have had more money to spend and the individual households have had less money left in their pockets. That is the reality we have seen so far.
As Conservatives, we are the voice of the taxpayer, and we will fight every day to ensure that the government is not allowed to bring in another sneaky tax grab targeted at the middle class, and those working hard to join it. Rather, we will fight for transparency to end the carbon tax cover-up, and to leave money in the pockets of the people who earned it.
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for for sharing his time with me. The speech would be easy if I just said what he said, but I want to take a slightly different approach. Again, I will remind the House why we are here today. We are talking about a motion that deals with the carbon tax cover-up. The motion itself reads:
That, given the Liberal government made a specific campaign promise to Canadians that “government data and information should be open by default, in formats that are modern and easy to use”, the House hereby order that all documents be produced in their original and uncensored form indicating how much the federal carbon tax proposed in Budget 2018 will cost Canadian families in order to put an end to the carbon tax cover-up.
The hon. member for already spoke about the fact that almost immediately after the last election he filed an access to information request to finance department officials asking, quite simply, how much the carbon tax was going to cost Canadian families, and how much emissions would be reduced.
They were great questions. The answer he received back was blacked out. We are talking about a government and a who promised in the last election that they were going to be more open and transparent than any other government in the history of the world.
Even to this day, Liberals stand up in this House and refuse to answer questions that have been asked at least 60 or 70 times: How much is the carbon tax going to cost Canadian families, and how much will it reduce emissions? This transparent and open government not only provides a document that is completely blacked out, but its members stand in this House and refuse to answer.
Instead, they put out buzzwords like “the environment and the economy go hand in hand” and “I have three children, and it is going to cost them in the future.” Those are not the answers Canadians are looking for. If the government truly wants Canadians to buy into its carbon reduction plan, at a minimum it should be telling Canadians how much it costs.
Now, there are some numbers that are known. For example, it is going to cause the price of gasoline to go up by 11¢ a litre. We know it is going to cost more to heat our homes, in excess of $200. However, there are additional costs associated with this, and the government is refusing to tell Canadians what they are. I was watching finance department officials this morning being questioned again by the hon. member for . They know the answer but refuse to give it. They were like deer in the headlights this morning, and it was quite a spectacle to see.
I am not blaming the bureaucrats. They are spewing out government talking points and policy, but at a minimum we should know how much it is going to cost. As the hon. member for said, this will disproportionately affect lower-income Canadians. We know that typically when taxes happen in the manner in which the government is proposing, they disproportionately affect lower-income Canadians. We want to know, for them, for middle-class Canadians, how much this is going to cost. This is why we are spending a whole day in Parliament doing that.
Now, we know it is not going to cost the , the , or the anything, because they make significant salaries, have cars driven for them, fly around all over the world on airplanes, and get their meals paid for. The government and senior officials in government are not going to be paying anything for a carbon tax, but again it is middle-class and lower-middle-class Canadians who are disproportionately going to be affected by this. All we are asking for is to know how much it is going to cost them.
The significance of this for middle- to lower-class Canadians is the impact it is going to have on their earning potential and their wage gains, for example in the case of union members. Last week, I was with members of the Canadian Police Association, and I talked to them specifically about the carbon tax. I mentioned it to the International Association of Fire Fighters. Fiscal government policy is directly having an impact on lower- and middle-class Canadians, because it is going to end up costing them more. Any wage gains they make at the bargaining table will be taken right back by the government with respect to carbon tax increases.
Add to that the cost of everyday goods, including those at the grocery store. Most people understand that the cost of things is already going up disproportionately. When we start adding taxes to the delivery of those goods and services, it is lower- and middle-class Canadians who are going to be paying more.
It will not be the , it will not be the , nor will it be the . They are going to do okay by raising carbon taxes. In fact, I would suggest they are going to do more than okay, because they are going to be able to raise funds to deal with their insatiable appetite to spend money and give money to their pet globalist projects around the world.
It should come as no surprise that we are in this position. Again, when I stand up in this House, I often reference the situation in Ontario and the fact that electricity rates are significantly high because of the failed green energy policy, the fact that consumers are again disproportionately affected by that, and the fact that lower- and middle-income Canadians are having to pay more because of that failed green energy policy in Ontario.
The common denominator in all of this goes back to the man who lurks in the shadows of the PMO, who comes up with these bright ideas that somehow impact negatively not just Ontarians but all Canadians, and that is Gerald Butts. He is the architect of the failed Green Energy Act and the man who is pushing this carbon tax agenda within the PMO. It will be Canadians who pay the price.
I know what I speak of, because I am a resident of Ontario, and we continue to pay the price. The people I represent in Barrie—Innisfil pay the price. They will continue to pay the price, because of carbon taxes and the impact they are going to have on them.
The government has not even modelled the price tag on this. The Liberals know what the answer to the question is, and that is why we are simply asking those questions. We want to know. Canadians want to know. If Canadians are going to buy into a government policy that increases the amount of tax they are going to pay, they deserve to know what the cost of that is going to be. Furthermore, they deserve to know what the reduction in those emissions is going to be. It is a fair question to ask.
This is why, again, we are spending all day talking about this. We want the answer. Canadians deserve to know the answer to the question. On the impact on the economy, we already heard last week that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said it is going to affect our GDP to the tune of $10 billion. In fact, there have been some suggestions that the actual cost is going to be $35 billion by 2022. Those are staggering amounts.
We are dealing with competitiveness issues with the United States, which is seemingly going in a different direction with taxes and regulations, yet here is Canada, implementing and imposing a job-killing carbon tax on businesses that are looking to succeed.
The government talks about attracting talent, but if there are no businesses here to attract that talent to, how can we reasonably expect to be competitive in a global marketplace? We have already seen, by last count, close to $84 billion of capital flee this country because of an assault by the government on our natural resource sector.
By adding a carbon tax to that, and by adding a carbon tax for middle-class and lower-income Canadians, who again are going to be disproportionately negatively affected by this, the Liberals will do damage to our economy, and they will also make it much more expensive for Canadians to live.
All we are asking for is the information. The government knows the information. The finance department knows the information. Canadians need to know and understand what it is going to cost them and what they are getting into by the Liberal government's proposed carbon tax. It is time for the government to stop covering it up.
Madam Speaker, I rise here today to once again reaffirm our clear commitment to tackling climate change.
Canadians understand that climate change is real. They know the governments at home and around the world must urgently address this challenge. That is what Canadians elected us to do, and we have a serious, practical, and cost-effective plan to tackle climate change. It is important that we take action to ensure our children and grandchildren live in a world where our environment is clean and our economy is strong.
Canadians understand that climate change is real. They know that the governments at home and around the world must urgently address this challenge. It is the right choice to make for our children and grandchildren. That is what Canadians elected us to do, and we have a serious, practical plan.
Today we are seeing the impacts of climate change across the country, and Canadian families are already affected. Let me provide a few examples.
One of the hardest calls I have ever had to make was to a rancher in Alberta's interior. Her family ranch was destroyed by intense wildfires that spread through B.C. and Alberta. Today, as a result of climate change, these wildfires are raging longer and are harsher than ever before.
Last year, I was in Gatineau, Quebec, helping to fill sandbags. As I was talking to the families who were protecting their homes from the rising flood waters, some homes were saved and many more were destroyed. We are seeing devastation like this across Canada and around the world.
Then there is the heartbreaking story from last summer when I was visiting the high Arctic. I spoke to an Inuit boy from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, who told me about the impacts of climate change that he was seeing in his homeland. He told me about his feet getting stuck in thawing permafrost like quicksand when he was hunting. He told me about the disappearance of the caribou, their country food. He also told me of experienced hunters—fathers, uncles, brothers, providers—dying after falling through the sea ice that they could no longer tell the thickness of. Today Canada's high Arctic is warming at three times the rate of the rest of Canada. Climate change is real, and it is having a real impact on Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Pollution is not free. It is a tax on future generations. From 1983 to 2004, insurance claims in Canada from severe weather events were almost $400 million a year. In the past decade, that amount has tripled to $1.2 billion a year.
By taking smart, sensible, and practical action, we can avert the worst impacts of climate change and grasp the enormous economic opportunities around the world worth trillions of dollars. By acting today, we can protect our environment and strengthen a clean growth economy.
The previous government was never serious about climate change. The Harper government announced targets with no intention of meeting them. Today we have the saying that he is against the price on pollution. However, he is once again committed to meeting the Paris Agreement targets. We cannot magically meet our Paris Agreement targets without using the market. Canadians expect us to act, and that is what we have been doing since we formed government.
Putting a price on pollution is central to any credible plan to combat climate change. That is exactly why we are working in partnership with the provinces and territories to price carbon.
Central to any credible climate plan is a price on pollution. That is exactly why we are working in partnership with the provinces and territories to price carbon. Canadians know that polluting is not free. We need to price what we do not want, which is pollution, and invest in the things that we do want, like lower taxes, health care, and clean technology solutions that create good jobs here in Canada. Carbon pricing is flexible, is cost-effective, and lets the markets do what they do best: drive creativity and reward solutions. We could even call it a “conservative” idea.
As a recent Globe and Mail editorial put it:
Putting a price on carbon is an effective way of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and fighting climate change. There is ample, persuasive evidence of this.
The research backs this up. Just yesterday, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a study that found that by 2022, a nationwide price on carbon pollution that meets the federal standards would eliminate 80 million to 90 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions. That is the equivalent of taking between 23 million and 26 million cars off the road for a year, or the equivalent of closing 20 coal-fired plants. Without a doubt, pricing carbon pollution is making a major contribution to helping Canada meet its climate targets under the Paris Agreement.
Pricing pollution is not only effective; it also strengthens our economy. Take British Columbia. It put a price on carbon pollution more than a decade ago, and since 2007, it has reduced emissions by between 5% and 15%, while provincial real GDP grew by more than 17% from 2007 to 2015.
Today over 80% of Canadians live in a province that already has a price on pollution—in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia—and last year these provinces led the country in economic growth.
Carbon pricing is the approach that economists overwhelmingly recommend. In fact, it is the policy that over 30 governments and 150 leading businesses have come together to support through the international Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. This group includes Canada's major banks, alongside Canadian companies in the consumer goods, energy, and resource development sectors. Steve Williams, the CEO of Suncor, Canada's largest oil producer, put it this way: “We think climate change is happening. We think a broad-based carbon price is the right answer.”
Around the world, governments are realizing the efficiency and effectiveness of pricing carbon pollution. Today some 40 countries, including Canada, are pricing carbon pollution, and more governments are planning to implement similar systems soon.
According to the World Bank, a price on pollution covers nearly half of the world's economy today. China recently launched the world's largest carbon pricing system, and last year Ontario, Quebec, and California signed an agreement to create the world's second-largest carbon market. A carbon price works best when people and businesses find ways not to pay it by investing in clean solutions to save money. This is not about raising money; it is about sending the right signals to spur clean innovation.
We have been clear that any revenue will remain in the province and territory it comes from. Provided they meet the federal standard, our approach gives provinces and territories the flexibility to design their own systems and to decide how best to use the revenues from pricing pollution to support families and businesses and to strengthen a clean growth economy. Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are reinvesting the revenues in their own provinces through measures such as targeted rebates or tax cuts to households and businesses, investments in public transit, clean technology solutions, and home retrofit programs that help families and businesses save money.
These investments are already making a big difference for Canadians. They are creating good jobs, supporting cleaner growth, and driving investments in cities and communities. Importantly, governments can and should design their own carbon pricing systems to avoid putting extra financial pressure on low-income and middle-class households. For example, provinces can choose to provide money-back rebates, to cut taxes, or to fund discounts on technologies that help people save money on energy bills. Governments in Canada are already making those kinds of choices.
British Columbia's carbon price system has a tax credit for low-income groups. It helps many offset the cost of that province's carbon price through direct payments to low-earning families. By cutting personal or corporate taxes, B.C. also returns revenues from its carbon tax to households and small businesses.
I am very proud that our government is taking the steps to price pollution across the country. The evidence from at home and around the world is extraordinarily strong. It shows that pricing pollution creates good middle-class jobs and gives families and businesses an incentive to make choices that will help them save energy and money. Canadians expect a healthy environment and a growing economy, and that is exactly what we are doing right.
In Alberta, about 60% of households receive full or partial rebates to compensate for the cost of the carbon tax. Families whose income in less than $95,000 a year receive a full rebate. Putting a price on pollution can protect families from the net costs. It helps reduce pollution and sets Canada up for success in the global transition to cleaner growth. The environment and the economy go together. Canadians expect a healthy environment and a growing economy, and that is exactly what we are doing right.
For too long in Canada and elsewhere, cynics have worked hard to stall action on climate change. Some have failed to see the enormous opportunity before us, while others simply refuse to acknowledge that climate change is real. However, the time for inaction is over, and that is why Canada is leading during the clean growth century.
Part of our plan is pricing carbon pollution, but it involves so much more. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and a great Canadian, put it best when he said, “The point is that the more we invest with foresight, the less we will regret in hindsight.” According to the World Bank, the Paris Agreement will help us open up nearly $23 trillion in new opportunities for climate-smart investments in Canada and emerging markets around the world between now and 2030.
With that in mind, let me lay out other parts of our climate plan, which together will not only reduce carbon pollution but will also renew our infrastructure, strengthen our transportation networks, and, through smart and strategic investments, spur clean innovation and opportunity in Canada's towns and cities.
We are investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure to build energy-efficient homes and offices and help families save on their energy bills. We are investing $20.1 billion to support urban public transit to help reduce commute times in our cities, to increase the use of clean transportation, and allow Canadians to spend more time with their families and less time in traffic.
We are going to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030. This will help prevent 260 premature deaths, 40,000 fewer asthma episodes, and 190,000 fewer days of breathing difficulty and reduced activity, providing health benefits of $1.2 billion during the regulated period. With the help of an expert task force, we will make sure the transition is a fair one for Canadian workers and communities that depend on coal.
We are implementing a clean fuel standard to encourage Canadians to use cleaner fuels, and we are improving energy efficiency through stricter building codes and standards.
Finally, Canada is making historic investments in our rapidly growing clean-tech and clean energy sectors. With a $2.2 billion investment, we are fostering clean-tech research and development, production, and export, and we are accelerating the growth of this industry to capture an increasing share of the global market.
These investments will create well-paying middle-class jobs across our country, and we already see Canadian companies leading the way. In Burnaby, B.C., Ballard Power Systems is creating fuel cells that are used in zero emission vehicles around the world. While I was in China on a trade mission, I saw city buses that were using Ballard's innovative technology.
In Edmonton, Alberta, I visited a manufacturing facility, Landmark Homes, that makes net-zero homes that look like any other suburban home. This company employs over 300 people. It uses energy-efficient materials and puts solar panel roofs on its houses. I met a family that lives in one of these homes, and instead of paying hydro bills, they earn revenue from selling electricity.
Alberta is also home to the Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, which, through collaboration and the sharing of technologies among companies, is creating cleaner air, bigger efficiencies, and better-protected lands.
In Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, Milligan BioFuels is turning damaged canola seeds into biodiesel, a cleaner fuel that can power the cars, trucks, and buses in our towns and cities.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, I toured a factory last year that makes electric buses. These incredible buses run smoothly, noiselessly, and emission-free. The company, New Flyer, is creating good middle-class jobs. In Toronto, the award-winning company ecobee makes smart thermostats that can easily be controlled from a smart phone. They help consumers save money and reduce their emissions while making their homes more comfortable. GHGSat, a company in Montreal, uses satellites to monitor industrial greenhouse gas emissions around the world. In 2016, it launched its first satellite into low earth orbit. Lastly, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, CarbonCure has hit on a solution that will benefit everyone by developing a technology for capturing industrial carbon dioxide and using it to produce stronger concrete.
In short, Canadian companies are stimulating innovation and creating jobs in a clean-growth economy. In doing so, they are showing the whole world what Canadian innovation looks like.
Today Canada's clean-tech sector ranks first among the G20 countries, according to the 2017 “Global Cleantech Innovation Index”. This year, 13 of Canada's clean-tech companies were ranked within the top 100 in the world, and Canadian companies are blowing away the competition for the Carbon XPRIZE, an award for companies that find innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions. This year, four Canadian companies reached the final round for the $20-million award.
However, for Canada to continue innovating and creating good, middle-class jobs in the clean-growth century, we must signal to the market that we are open for investment, and that is why our government has pursued pragmatic, flexible, and smart climate policies. Canadians expect us to uphold our commitment to the Paris Agreement, our commitment to growing our economy and strengthening the middle class, and our commitment to future generations.
With that, let me end with a quick story. Two years ago, I was in Morocco discussing climate change with leaders from around the world. While there, I witnessed a telling conversation. It was between an Inuit elder and the leader of a Pacific small island state, both places where the impacts of climate change are drastically altering the landscape and people's way of life.
We know that Canada's High Arctic is warming at three times the rate of the rest of the country, and many small island states are facing rising sea levels that are destroying the infrastructure, and ultimately, their homelands. As the leader of the island state was describing the devastation of storm surges and rising ocean waters on his land, and the Inuit elder was describing the effects of warming weather and melting sea ice on his land, the Inuit elder realized something. He said, “So my homeland is melting, and it's causing yours to go under water.” It was a powerful moment, and it underscored our need to work together with the entire world to tackle climate change.
Our government is going to continue to act for the benefit of our environment and our economy. We are going to put a price on carbon pollution to reduce emissions, create jobs, and stimulate clean growth.
Our government will continue acting in the interest of our environment and our economy. We will price carbon pollution to reduce emissions, create jobs, and spur clean growth. We will continue investing in the future, making our buildings more energy efficient, our transportation cleaner, and our industry more innovative and competitive. Ultimately, why will we do this? It is because we owe it to our kids and our grandkids.
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my wonderful colleague from .
I am very pleased to rise in the House today to talk about climate change and all the issues related to this incredible challenge we are facing. As legislators, as parliamentarians, we need to realize that this is probably the biggest challenge of our generation and that, in the coming decades, our children and grandchildren will judge us as a society and as an international community based on our success or failure in terms of how we tackle this important issue, namely the risks associated with global warming.
That is why we need to take this issue very seriously, perhaps more seriously than we have taken other issues, because the repercussions will be huge on every level. I would remind members that there is a reason that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.
We are in the midst of a migrant crisis, a refugee crisis. There were more refugees around the world last year than at any other time in history. There were more than during the Second World War. Now people face the risk of becoming climate refugees, people who have to leave their part of the world or their country because it will become uninhabitable, tensions will rise, and conflict will erupt around natural resources, access to water, and so on.
I mention this so that everyone can understand the scope of the situation that today's opposition motion gives us the opportunity to discuss in the House. I would now like to explain why, at the end of my speech as the NDP environment critic, I will present an amendment to the motion moved by our friends in the Conservative Party that will improve it and make it more balanced.
The Conservative motion calls for transparency. We support transparency. We need information in order to make sound decisions. The public needs to be kept informed. Having information on the impact of carbon pricing is a good idea, in principle. Upon reading the motion for the first time, one might think, “Why not?”, this makes sense and we could learn from the experience of others. For example, Quebec, California and other U.S. states have been using a carbon exchange, which is one way of pricing carbon and encouraging companies to change their ways and adopt more environmentally friendly ways of manufacturing products that cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. There are other areas where pricing is possible. British Columbia has had coal pricing for a decade now. Let us look into what that means for the people of British Columbia, for the families and businesses and the opportunity they have to innovate and improve how they do things. We could also debate this with other provinces such as Alberta and Ontario, which have their own way of pricing carbon.
The Conservative motion ignores the other side of the coin. The motion talks about the potential impact on families and individuals. Yes, but if we do nothing, if we do not take leadership on this, if we take no action on global warming and its effects, about which there is unassailable international scientific consensus, there is a potential impact there as well. Global warming, which is already under way and could be catastrophic if the temperature rises more than 2°C per year above 1990 reference levels, will result in more natural disasters and climate extremes. I am talking about natural disasters that will have an even greater impact than what we have seen so far to the detriment of countless economic sectors.
If we want to be logical, balanced, and transparent in this debate, we also need to find out the cost of not taking action, the consequences of the extreme temperatures we may be facing. It has already begun in Quebec and across Canada. We already have studies and numbers.
The average number of natural disasters in Canada has doubled over the past 30 years. It is not that there were no natural disasters before, but they were fewer in number, less serious, and had less of an impact on people's lives, our environment, and our economy.
Climate change and the rising number of natural disasters are not unrelated. Quite the opposite, and there is a cost associated with that. Since we are talking about insurance, from 1983 to 2004, insured losses from natural disasters cost an average of $373 million a year in Canada. However, in the next decade, from 2005 to 2015, the average annual losses more than tripled. They were three times as high. They cost an average of $1.2 billion per year. We can already see that climate change is having an impact and that there is a cost associated with it.
The federal government's disaster financial assistance arrangements program helps the provinces and territories recover from natural disasters. In 1970, it paid out an average of $54 million. From 1995 to 2004, the program gave out $291 million per year. From 2005 to 2015, it paid out $410 million per year. In the past six years, this fund provided more financial assistance than it has in its 39 years of operation. The increase in the cost of this federal insurance over the past 20 years is a result of the increase in the number and intensity of large-scale natural disasters. Our Conservative friends like to talk about the impact on our wallets and pockets. There has already been an impact because it is costing the government a lot of money in insurance alone, and that is not even to mention individuals.
There is also an impact on our economic ability to make the transition and maintain acceptable economic growth. The two go hand in hand. Climate change can result in many economic losses. I talked about natural disasters and extreme weather events, but we also have to consider the impact on public health spending, losses in agricultural productivity, financial coverage of risk, or insurance, premature wear and tear on infrastructure, and energy costs. All these impacts could slow our economic growth if we do nothing. We must be fully aware of them.
The impacts of climate change are quite varied and include infrastructure that must be rebuilt, health problems, and destroyed crops. It can be difficult to evaluate their cost, but several studies have been conducted. I will name a few because it is important that this be part of the debate if we want to have a sound, balanced, and well-informed discussion. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, estimates that a 2°C increase in global warming could reduce global GDP by 2% per year. That is significant.
Some of the more direct costs in Quebec are associated with flood damage. Take, for example, the flooding this year and last year. Shoreline erosion resulting from decreased winter ice cover and infrastructure damaged by repeated freeze-thaw cycles are two more examples. I have the pleasure of living in Montreal, and I can say that the potholes are very real. When temperatures vary significantly during the winter, the snow melts and water seeps into the asphalt, which then cracks when the water freezes again. This happens several times a year.
I want to read a quote regarding the impact on the global economy. “Taking action now will not only solve the problems of protecting the planet, but it will be a tremendous boost for economies.” Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, said this in 2014. I could also quote the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the potential impact on the American economy.
To have a balanced motion that looks at the overall impact of a carbon tax or climate change, I move, seconded by the member for , an amendment to the motion:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “indicating” and substituting the following: “to Canadian families how much the price on carbon proposed in Budget 2018 will cost them, and how much the growing effects of climate change will cost them if there is no carbon tax, in order to provide greater transparency to Canadians.”
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to share my time with my colleague from , who always gives passionate, well-informed speeches that are based on facts and science. When we debate a subject, he always takes to time to do the research to enlighten us.
What is rather unfortunate about the motion before us today is that the Conservatives are focusing on one aspect of access to information and transparency, whereas there is another aspect, which is putting a price on carbon, which is very beneficial. It benefits not just the economy and the environment, but human health and the health of the planet. We keep saying that climate change and the environment is the number one issue for our generation and for all human beings on the planet. It seems that we are not doing enough in that regard. Still, the government boasts about taking action and putting Canada back on the map with the Paris Agreement.
However, there is a stack of international and national reports that point to the Liberals' inaction. In a 2017 report, for example, the OECD states, among other things, that there was no plan for public transit and the electrification of transportation and that we do not have a general environmental assessment process. “In 2012, following revision of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the number of projects subject to environmental assessment (EA) at the federal level decreased significantly.” The Liberals promised to review environmental assessments, which still has not been done. The report also mentions a lack of innovation.
Despite a generally strong innovation culture, Canada files far fewer environmental patents per capita than leading OECD countries. Its share of the global clean technology market has fallen since 2005. A relatively large share (8%) of public investment in research and development (R&D) targets the energy sector. Within this percentage, a large share supports the environmental performance of fossil fuel extraction and processing.
The Liberals continue to give funding and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $1.6 billion a year. This makes no sense at all, if the goal is to reduce our ecological footprint and leave a healthy planet for our children and future generations. This is not the direction the government should be taking.
The government had set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. Since we will not be able to achieve that, the government extended the target deadline to 2030. Even with that change, the OECD report predicts that we will not meet those objectives. In addition to the OECD report, the environment commissioner's reports also reiterate that we will not meet those targets. On top of that, the Liberals have not developed a government-wide plan. Of the 19 federal departments studied, 14 have no plan for adapting to climate change, and this includes Environment Canada. I find that a little ironic. The government also has no strategy for developing ways to assess the improvements that will be made in each department. It does not have a comprehensive plan for federal departments to work together. Instead, they are working in silos. Why is there no overarching vision? This is 2018, and we keep saying that climate change is of the utmost importance. It makes no sense.
The people of Salaberry—Suroît are worried about these kinds of things. We had a town hall meeting in January on the importance of making the green shift. In my region, Soulanges already has three pipelines running through its territory. People are very worried.
In a recent media release, people from Montreal and other areas called on the government to require oil companies to have an emergency plan in order to protect our drinking water intakes. Not one of the 27 drinking water intakes along the Ottawa River all the way to the greater Montreal area is equipped with an oil content monitor. It would take at least an hour and a half for the company to arrive on location. In the meantime, a tremendous amount of oil would end up in our drinking water and it would take less than 12 hours for it to reach peoples' taps in Montreal. Clearly, some measures have been entirely overlooked.
As far as climate change is concerned, we have talked about the cost of inaction. The national round table on the environment and the economy, which was put in place by the Conservatives at the time, issued a report in 2011 stating that the impact of doing nothing could cost the country up to $5 billion a year by 2020 and between $21 billion and $43 billion by 2050 depending on the scenario. That number could even reach $91 billion if absolutely nothing is done. This is a disaster. Last year, rising waters caused flooding in several regions, including mine, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and the Upper St. Lawrence. That flooding cost and continues to cost thousands of dollars to countless families who are unable to sell or renovate their homes. It is tough.
Furthermore, communities all around the world could face hurricanes and flooding. Climate change could wipe entire islands off the face of the earth. This is an extremely serious issue, and unless something is done, humans and animals will pay the price. Fortunately, citizen initiatives are helping us understand that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. This is something the government keeps saying over and over, but without following through. For example, in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Comité 21, an organization founded by Lorraine Simard, brings together businesses, municipalities, community groups, and the media to promote sustainable development practices. For instance, it is working on the circular economy, where certain companies use waste materials generated by other companies. This transforms waste into a useful material for others at a lower cost, reducing waste at the source.
There are also other initiatives, such as the “zero waste” movement, which is popular among young people. A local woman named Cindy Trottier created a “zero waste” logo for companies across Quebec that reuse containers in order to avoid plastic containers and other items that end up in the trash. We have only to think of laundry detergent bottles and food packaging. For example, mesh bags get reused. These are citizen initiatives that are helping us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2014, for the first time in Parliament's history, the NDP hosted a forum on clean energy and industry that drew 150 environmental and economic experts, along with industry representatives and public policy-makers. What the forum found was that Canada had no public policy that would ensure fair competition among industries.
Many businesses have already followed suit and are finding innovative ways of lowering their greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time growing and creating jobs. However, Canada does not encourage them. Céline Bak, from the Canadian Clean Technology Coalition, said that 20% of workers in the renewable energy sector were under the age of 30. Job growth in this sector is at 6%, and growth is skyrocketing in the global marketplace. In 2014, 800,000 companies offered clean solutions, and Canadian SMEs were investing in research and development.
Measures are already being taken, but the government is simply not doing enough. It lacks transparency in the information it makes available. The Conservatives should expand their scope to include all of these aspects. Putting a price on carbon is good for public health, for the environment, and for the economy.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
As the member of Parliament for the riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, located in the heart of the beautiful upper Ottawa Valley, it gives me great pleasure to rise in this place to support the motion from my colleague, also from the Ottawa Valley, the hon. member for .
There is an old parliamentary saying in Canada that a government is only as good as the opposition. The member for is doing an outstanding job on behalf of all Canadians. The sad legacy of the member for of deficit budgets on the backs of our children and their children, and now massive carbon taxes on the backs of their parents and grandparents, is a legacy he should be ashamed of.
It is a method. Carbon pricing will not lower pollution emissions. Carbon taxes will increase government revenues. A tax is a tax is a tax.
There are many things we can do to improve the environment. A made-in-Canada environmental policy, by Canadians and for Canadians, would be an honest start for the government.
Carbon taxes are wrong for the Canadian experience. We live in a cold country, which by its very nature is energy intensive. Carbon taxes are not revenue neutral. No money will be returned to taxpayers. Carbon taxes are not going to save the planet. Adopting carbon taxes in Canada raises global carbon emissions by offshoring economic activity from relatively environmentally friendly places like Canada to places with lax environmental laws, like China.
Data from the World Bank reveals that China and other developing countries produce far more carbon per dollar of economic output, at purchasing power parity, than do western nations, and China shows no signs of decreasing its emissions anytime soon. China is currently building hundreds of new coal-fired plants, which will ensure its CO2 emissions continue to rise for decades to come. Taken together, these facts mean that every factory pushed out of Canada because of a carbon tax will actually increase global emissions dramatically, and this will continue to be the case for decades to come.
Study after study confirms this fact. For example:
Developed countries can claim to have reduced their collective emissions by almost 2% between 1990 and 2008. But once the carbon cost of imports have been added to each country and exports subtracted - the true change has been an increase of 7%. If Russia and Ukraine - which cut their CO2 emissions rapidly in the 1990s due to economic collapse - are excluded, the rise is 12%.
In 2003, it was calculated that the world would need to add about a nuclear power plant's worth of clean energy capacity every day between 2000 and 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change, which is 1,100 megawatts of clean power capacity every 24 hours. At the moment, 15 years on, and in the midst of what we keep hearing described as a green energy revolution, we are adding about 151 megawatts, or barely 10%.
The development of small modular reactors, SMRs, is a big opportunity for Canada and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, or CNL, located in the Ottawa Valley, and it is a big win for the environment. A small modular reactor is one that produces anywhere from a few hundred watts to a maximum of about 300 megawatts. A conventional reactor produces about 800 megawatts.
“Modular” refers to the construction style and “reactor” refers to the energy source. Recently, CNL hosted the premiere screening of The New Fire, which was filmed across four continents over the course of 22 months. The New Fire follows a group of young engineers and entrepreneurs who are developing advanced nuclear technology while working to overcome long-standing societal perceptions about nuclear energy and the role it will play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the challenges facing residents living in northern Canada is the high cost of living, which includes the high cost of energy. The high cost of energy in many remote communities reflects the short shipping season and the use of diesel fuel to operate generators. Not only is that expensive, but it is bad for the environment. As a greenhouse-gas-free source of energy, an SMR is an ideal solution to solve both problems.
Energy policies take a very long time and great effort. It takes just as long to undo mistakes, as Ontario residents are now discovering with the Hydro One wind turbine scandal.
By supporting SMR research and development, Canada has he opportunity to get it right the first time. Despite what the and the member for tell Canadians, carbon taxes basically amount to useless virtue-signalling. Canadians have come to the conclusion that carbon taxes are nothing more than a green hustle. Carbon taxes are just that: taxes.
Since the member for Toronto and the member for Ottawa are so evasive when it comes to the massive Liberal carbon tax scheme, I am obliged to share with Canadians some of the things we do know about the massive carbon tax scheme. The carbon sales tax will be hidden from Canadians. It is buried in the price of what Canadians purchase, in an effort to shift the blame for rising prices to things like the weather. The Liberals voted to keep the carbon sales tax hidden rather than allowing the carbon sales tax, or CST, to appear on a separate line on Canadians' energy bills.
The next thing Canadians should know about the carbon sales tax is that one pays HST on the CST. Since the carbon tax is hidden in the price of everyday purchases and services, we will be paying a tax on a tax on a tax. The GST, the HST, and now the CST all have one thing in common, apart from being a tax: they are all consumption taxes.
As the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am proud to have listened to my constituents' pleas to cut taxes and I voted to cut the GST. More than any other of the many tax cuts brought in when our Conservative government was expertly managing our economy, the tax cut that benefited the poor was our cutting the GST. It is a fact that when the Liberal Party brings in a tax increase using a consumption tax like the carbon tax, the poor in Canada pay more as a percentage of their income, while the member for 's rich Bay Street buddies pay less in carbon taxes as a percentage of their income.
The CST, the GST, the HST: a tax is a tax is a tax.
Our Conservative government of the day was bitterly opposed by the Liberal Party when we cut the GST, and the Liberal Party has been looking for a way to increase consumption taxes in Canada ever since. The wealthiest of Canadians have been steadily increasing their share of the national wealth—think Toronto's single-family housing prices—and now control much more than ever before.
As people like Mike Crawley, past president of the Liberal Party, became vastly richer on the backs of Ontario electricity consumers using a carbon tax scheme, the wealth of middle-class and lower-class Canadians barely increased in real terms, and the poverty rate remained static. After all, was this not what former Liberal cabinet minister David Dingwall was referring to when he clearly stated on behalf of his party, in a moment of unusual candour for a Liberal, that he was “entitled to his entitlements”?
This is no accident. The fortunate few prosper by influencing public policy to their advantage. That is why working-class people pay most whenever a new tax, like the carbon tax, is dreamt up by the technocrats in Ottawa. Working folks are told to content themselves with the vague hope that a subsidy or a handout will lessen the sting of the latest tax increase. It never turns out that way.
The has repeatedly said that he wants to phase out Canada's energy sector. Carbon taxes are the stick to beat the energy industry. The Prime Minister is denying government funding to groups that do not share his personal values, but the Liberal Party is prepared to provide government funding to extremists, who have been misled about the value of the Trans Mountain expansion and the thousands of jobs it will create. How does the government justify this blatant political favouritism? It is by claiming free speech.
Shutting down the pipeline supports the carbon tax agenda. I really do not know if Liberal MPs understand the irony in that statement. The government has no problem cutting funding to groups that feed the poor, provide summer camp to underprivileged kids, and help refugees integrate into Canada. If they refuse to compromise their values and sign some demeaning loyalty attestation, these citizens are attacked.
However, the funded a group that even said that the sole purpose of the job was to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which in the mind of the member for is the reason she needs carbon taxes, which is to shut down pipelines.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to debate a motion from our caucus dealing specifically with the carbon tax cover-up. The government has introduced a national carbon tax, which it is trying to impose on Canadians, even in cases where the provinces object. It is trying to impose that national carbon tax, and it knows how much it will cost Canadians, but it will not tell us. Its approach to so-called transparency today is to release documents with all the relevant information blacked out, so we needed a motion today from the opposition demanding that the government actually tell Canadians how much this policy will cost. Canadians have a right to know how much they will be on the hook for with the misguided carbon-tax policy of the government.
I am going to focus most of my remarks today on deconstructing some of the very bad arguments we hear from the government. For example, yesterday in question period, the parliamentary secretary defended the carbon tax by telling us that he has two children. Well, I have three children. The fact that one needs to reference the number of children one has as the basis, somehow, for caring about the future suggests a certain inadequacy in the parliamentary secretary's argument. There are many people who have children who recognize that the carbon tax is a bad policy. That is perhaps the most obvious example of the government's farcical approach to trying to defend its policy.
Every time we ask the government about the carbon tax policy, it tells us that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. That is sort of like asking for the answer to the ultimate question of life and being told “42”. We have asked what this means. What is the justification for the policy? The environment and the economy, after all, are not physical beings. They do not actually have hands, and therefore, they cannot be, in a strictly physical sense, at least, hand in hand. As such, one must infer that the government is trying to be metaphoric in its justification of this policy when it speaks of the environment and the economy going hand in hand. However, for a metaphor to have meaning, it must have a meaning. Possibly the Liberals mean, when they say this, that one can simultaneously seek economic and environmental improvement. This is uncontroversially true. One can seek to improve the environment and the economy at the same time. Also, by the way, a policy can be simultaneously bad for the economy and bad for the environment. In that sense, we do see the government's policy putting the environment and the economy hand in hand, and walking in the wrong direction. Saying that improvement in one area is not mutually exclusive of improvements in another does not actually offer anything substantive in defence of the Liberals' chosen instrument.
References to children and bad metaphors aside, let us ask what the government's basis is for imposing this carbon tax on Canadians. The Liberals tell us, and I think we have already heard it today, that the carbon tax is the only way for us to meet our Paris targets. This is, of course, objectively false. Many countries that are part of the Paris accord intend to meet their targets without a carbon tax, and indeed, Canada reduced emissions before, under a Conservative government, under a Harper Conservative government, without a carbon tax.
The Liberals today are eager to reference Stephen Harper as much as possible. Two can play at that game. Over the period of the Harper government, emissions went down overall. Thanks to Stephen Harper's leadership, emissions went down, or went up by less, in every single province during those 10 years. Thanks to Harper's policies, the environment improved more than our global partners', while the economy was growing faster than our global partners'. Those are the facts, for the record, and members can check them. If people are still playing this drinking game at home, Harper, Harper, Harper.
Leaving that aside, the Paris accord involves nationally determined targets anyway. One further point to make about a carbon tax is that a carbon tax is a policy instrument specifically designed as incompatible with the realization of predictable targets. That is its nature, and a really elementary point about so-called carbon pricing systems, which members across the way know, or should know. The goal of any system of so-called carbon pricing is to commodify carbon emissions as a thing that must be paid for instead of as a thing that can be done for free.
In the real world, the price of carbon emissions is not just a product of that tax. The price of emitting a tonne of carbon is the tax, plus input costs, minus the economic benefit. If the cost exceeds zero or exceeds the alternatives, it will not be worth the emissions, but if the cost is below, then it will be worth the emissions. As such, raising the price through a tax increase increases the likelihood that the emissions will not be economically worthwhile. However, the specific quantity of emissions is not predictable on the basis of that instrument, because the specific price of those emissions will still be determined, ultimately, by market forces, by considerations of the inputs as well as the value of the output. Therefore, the introduction of a carbon tax, by its very nature, provides absolutely no certainty that we would meet the government's Paris targets, or any targets, because that is just not the nature of the instrument. It is to impose an additional cost burden on the emissions, but it is not tied, and cannot be tied, to the specific realization of targets, except in a speculative, predictive sort of way.
There are other instruments that are, perhaps potentially, more predictive. For example, a cap and trade system fixes the quantity of emissions that are allowable without imposing a direct tax, although, of course, it leads to increased costs. It is another way of imposing those additional costs on the consumer. However, with a cap and trade system, the nature of the instrument fixes the quantity. Imposing an additional tax through a carbon tax shifts the economic calculations businesses make, but it provides no certainty on the impact on emissions. The government's argument that this is designed, by its nature, to allow us to realize the Paris targets is just wrong on its face in terms of the structure of the policy instrument.
The other point to make is that carbon taxes are generally imposed on relatively inelastic goods, such as home heating fuel. One cannot exactly turn the heating fuel off to avoid the carbon tax if it is -30°C outside. That is what economists would call an inelastic good, and generally speaking, our consumption of it is relatively inflexible. Members are pointing out through helpful heckles that, of course, there are things we can do to impact our energy use over the long term. Those things, frankly, are economically advantageous, regardless of whether there is a carbon tax. The real goal of the government should be to give people the capacity, perhaps through tax cuts, to make those kinds of investments in installations. There is no argument that by increasing taxes, people will do something that would have been economically advantageous for them anyway to reduce their heating costs, which is why, vis-à-vis the carbon tax, we are talking about consumption that is relatively inelastic.
Any time a tax is imposed on a relatively inelastic good, there is a high level of cost and economic hardship, yet we are likely to see a relatively lower actual reduction in the use of the thing that has a tax imposed on it. That is another reason this is a bad argument for a bad policy.
Another argument we hear from the government is that we have to something; the opposition wants to do nothing, and the government wants to do something. The government saying that it should do something and talking about the cost of doing nothing avoids the argument about which policy instrument one should actually use.
I think all of us in the House believe that action must be taken. Conservatives champion a different set of policy prescriptions that do not involve imposing massive new taxes on Canadians. However, if we are going to talk about the cost of doing nothing, perhaps we should also talk about the cost of doing the wrong thing. In the name of achieving one objective by choosing a policy instrument that is totally inadequate and totally ineffective and that raises revenue for the government but does not aim effectively at the end one is trying to achieve, one is not any further ahead. Doing the wrong thing in the name of doing something to solve a real problem does not get us any further toward solving the actual problem.
Winston Churchill once said that it is not enough to say that we have done our best: we must know what to do and then do our best. The point we need to debate in the House, which the government continuously avoids, is not whether we need a response to the challenge of climate change but whether this particular policy instrument is the right one. Not only are the Liberals imposing taxes on Canadians, and are not willing to tell us how much that tax will cost Canadians, but they have no credible, rational justification for what they are doing. They are simply eager to impose taxes, new taxes, more taxes, all kinds of taxes, on Canadians every step of the way, even though they have no sense of how this will align with the objectives they have set out.
The government should stop its new tax grab on Canadians. If nothing else, the Liberals should at least tell us how much it will cost. They should end the carbon tax cover-up. They should share the information so that Canadians can debate what is going on. Therefore, this motion needs to pass.
Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the hon. member for .
Hopefully, the information that I am going to lay out in my remarks will address many of the issues and questions which the member for raised. There might be some that I will not get to, but maybe in questions and comments I will have a chance.
Canadians know that pollution is not free. We see the cost in droughts, floods, and extreme weather, but also in the effects on our health. Canadians expect action on climate change because it is the right thing to do for our kids, our grandkids, and as global citizens. Taking strong action to address climate change is critical and urgent. We are keeping our promise to Canadians. We are putting in place better rules to protect our environment and build a stronger economy.
Pricing pollution is widely held as an efficient way to reduce emissions at the lowest cost to businesses and consumers and to support innovation and clean growth. Carbon pricing sends an important signal to markets and provides incentives to reduce energy use through conservation and efficiency measures. That is why carbon pricing is being adopted by countries around the world and is a central pillar of our national plan on clean growth and climate change.
Over 80% of Canadians already live in a jurisdiction that has a price on carbon pollution: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Last year, those four provinces led the country in economic growth.
In October 2016, the announced a pan-Canadian carbon pricing standard that gives the provinces the flexibility to implement the type of system that makes sense for their circumstances. We have been clear and unequivocal that we will return all direct revenue from the federal carbon price to the jurisdiction from whence it came. That revenue can be used in different ways including, for example, to provide assistance to households and businesses, and to invest in programs and technology that reduce emissions.
New analysis from Environment and Climate Change Canada confirms that a price on pollution across Canada would significantly reduce carbon pollution while maintaining a strong and growing economy. The study found that carbon pricing could reduce carbon pollution by up to 90 million tonnes across Canada by 2022. That is the same as taking 26 million cars off the road a year or shutting down more than 20 coal plants.
Carbon pricing will make a substantial contribution to Canada's 2030 target, but it is not the only thing we are doing to cut emissions. Canada's climate plan includes many other measures that work together with carbon pricing to reduce emissions. Pricing carbon pollution is one of the key actions being taken to put Canada on a course to meet its 2030 targets in combination with a complementary clean growth measure under Canada's clean growth climate action plan.
In addition to pricing carbon, the federal government is making other significant investments to help Canadian businesses and workers participate in the $1 trillion in opportunities offered by the world's transition to a clean growth economy. In June 2017, we launched a low-carbon economic leadership fund to leverage investments in provinces and territories in projects that will support clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, industries, forestry, and agriculture. We launched a low-carbon economy challenge in March that will provide more than $500 million for projects that will generate clean growth and reduce carbon pollution. Provinces, territories, businesses, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, and indigenous communities can apply. I cannot wait to see the types of brilliant ideas that Canadians will bring forward, including those from the Happy City St. John's project which received over 1,000 recommendations in the first 10 days of its #SmartCityYYT initiative.
The Government of Canada is also investing billions in green infrastructure and public transit and, through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, in green bonds from Export Development Canada which are using innovative financing mechanisms to support climate investments and help new technologies become mainstream. Business owners already know that pricing carbon makes sense. According to a report from the carbon disclosure project, the number of companies with internal plans to price their own carbon pollution shot up between 2014 and 2017 from 150 to almost 1,400. The list includes more than 100 of the world's largest companies with total annual revenues of $7 trillion. It just makes sense.
Canada's five major banks, along with many companies in the consumer goods, energy, and resource development sectors, also support putting a price on pollution as members of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, which includes 32 national and subnational governments, 150 businesses, and 67 strategic partners globally working to support and accelerate carbon pricing around the world.
A recent study ranked Canada first in the G20 and fourth in the world as a clean technology innovator, up from seventh place in 2014. Last year, 11 of Canada's clean-tech companies ranked in the top 100 worldwide.
Companies such as Winnipeg's Farmers Edge are developing cutting-edge technologies that help farmers waste less energy and increase their profits. St. John's start-up, Mysa, makes a sleek, smart thermostat that links up smart phones to help Canadians save money and make their homes more comfortable. Power HV, a new company incubated at the Genesis Centre, supported by ACOA and Memorial University in my hometown, has created a more efficient, smart bushing that could save 20 tonnes of carbon equivalency per year, if used in electrical transmission. Other innovators are working nationwide to seize this opportunity to protect our environment, create new businesses, create new middle-class jobs, and help our industries compete globally.
According to the World Bank, jurisdictions representing about half the global economy are putting a price on carbon. That does not include China's national system, announced late last year, and which I mentioned earlier in the debate. Our approach is going to ensure that Canadians are well placed to benefit from the opportunities created by the global transition that is currently under way.
Carbon pricing is the most effective way to reduce emissions. It creates incentives for businesses and households to innovate and pollute less. Carbon pricing brings down emissions while driving investment in energy efficiency and in cleaner, less polluting energy sources up.
Our approach is that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. That is what we are doing every day to help protect our kids, our grandkids, and to help Canadians prosper. The party opposite does not share that vision. That party spent a decade ragging the puck on climate action, and notwithstanding what the member for said, taking credit for a recession or for Ontario's coal reduction is not really emblematic of what that party did on climate change. Canadians deserve better. Our government is using the best tools in our tool box, and that includes a carbon price. Canadians deserve a serious, smart and thoughtful plan to protect the economy and protect the environment, and that is exactly what we are doing.
If I have a couple more moments, I would like to reflect on some of the other issues that were raised.
The previous speaker mentioned not being precisely sure about exactly what the results of a price on carbon are going to be. It is an iterative approach. People understand, and I am sure the member opposite agrees, that the supply and demand law of economics is a law. It is not deviated from and it has an effect.
When we set out the initial price on carbon, it had a tracking toward 2022. We are unsure exactly what the price on carbon would be for future years, but by examining what happens in the marketplace, by measuring the effects on business, on consumers, on changes in attitudes, and on seeing the additional economic growth that comes from investing in new technologies that reduce our emissions, we can see exactly what the appropriate price trajectory should be to ensure that we make our 2030 commitments.
Just because we do not know ab initio exactly what the right path will be, it is through investing and taking the time to measure the outcomes in an evidenced-based way that we can see precisely how, where, and when the prices should go to get our reductions down to our 2030 targets. I believe the members opposite understand that, but I do appreciate the comments they raise. They are interesting and they are thought provoking. It points to the fact that we need to do more.
We need to be open and transparent with Canadians throughout the process of carbon pricing, throughout the process of measuring the outcomes of businesses, the conduct of consumers, and seeing which provinces perform better based on the nuanced approach that they take in their own individual circumstance to price carbon. We are likely to see that some provinces fare better and others worse, and that best practices can form. We can see whether or not industries need a bit more support to remain internationally competitive and maybe consumers need to do more or vice versa.
However, this is what an iterative approach means. This is what an evidence-based approach means. I believe the members opposite understand that.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this important element of Bill today. Our government has made it very clear that it believes the economy and the environment go hand in hand. Bill is proof of that.
We now have abundant and consistent evidence that our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting pollution by fairly taxing carbon is helping grow our economy and Canada's middle class. Our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also reduce pollution in the air we breathe.
Protecting the environment is everyone's responsibility, and our government is stepping up. With Bill , the government will reduce emissions by enacting the greenhouse gas pollution pricing act. Pricing carbon pollution is the most effective way to reduce emissions. Pricing gives Canadian businesses and households an incentive to innovate more and make day-to-day choices that pollute less. Our government made that promise when it came to power over two years ago. We need to invest in growth while respecting the environment we share and helping to protect it.
The government's plan is to grow the economy in a way that strengthens the middle class and helps all Canadians succeed. What have we achieved in this regard?
From the time we took office, over 600,000 jobs have been created, most of them full-time. The youth unemployment rate is near its lowest on record. Since 2016, Canada has led the G7 in economic growth, and the federal debt-to-GDP ratio, which is our debt relative to our economy, is not only on a downward track but is projected to be near its lowest level in nearly 40 years.
We have energized the economy by investing in our communities and in our people. Small businesses are a key driver of our economy, accounting for more than 70% of all private sector jobs. That is why our government is supporting and investing in small businesses and helping hard-working business owners grow their businesses. Growth means more jobs, healthier families, and more vibrant communities.
We lowered the small business tax rate to 10% as of January 1, 2018, because we understand how much small businesses contribute to Canada's economy. As of January 1, 2019, the rate will be lowered to 9%. Canadian business owners and innovators will now save up to $7,500 a year in federal corporate taxes to help them do what they do best: create jobs.
By 2019, the combined federal, provincial, and territorial corporate tax rate for small businesses will be 12.2%. This is the lowest rate in the G7 and the third-lowest rate among OECD countries. Canadians deserve to be confident that their hard work will result in better opportunities, that they will have equal opportunities to grow professionally, and that they will be successful. We want Canadian business owners and Canadians as a whole to be confident in these things, and a lower small business tax rate will only support this goal.
I am talking about economic measures because I believe that it is possible to work on the economy and the environment at the same time, as the government has shown. I remind members of the Canada workers benefit, which is an improved version of the working income tax benefit. With this benefit, low-income workers will have more money in their pockets and people will get more support to find work. For example, a low-income worker who earns $15,000 could receive up to $500 more in 2019 than the amount he or she would have received in 2018 with the old benefit. Our government also wants to encourage more people to join the workforce. The workers benefit provides real support for more than 2 million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class. The improved benefits in 2019 will bring about 70,000 Canadians out of poverty.
The investments we have made in Canadians, in our communities, in our economy, and in our environment are making Canada stronger and creating meaningful opportunities for all Canadians, and that is our objective. That should be our focus every day here in Ottawa. We have created prime economic conditions to help our businesses grow, do well in Canada, and be competitive in foreign markets.
We have done this by providing support through such organizations as the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
The Business Development Bank of Canada serves 49,000 Canadian entrepreneurs and has committed $29 billion to small and medium-sized businesses. We are redoubling our efforts on the international front to make it clear to our international partners that Canada is the best place in the world to invest.
Why? It is because we have a workforce that is diverse, highly skilled, innovative, well educated, and hard-working. We have a wealth of natural resources. We have a modern, efficient infrastructure, because we have invested in that infrastructure and will continue to do so. We have a sound financial system, recognized across the world as a beacon of stability and efficiency because it is built on a foundation of sound regulation. Finally, of course, in budget 2018 it has been quite clear from the get-go that we in Canada believe in gender equality. We believe it strengthens the economy. When we say all working Canadians deserve the opportunity to earn a good living, we include Canada's talented, hard-working women.
All of us fortunate enough to live in this wonderful country could easily add to that list, but the essential message I want to convey is that Canada's fiscal house is in order, and that means we are resilient to shocks and uncertainty.
We want Canadians to feel confident about the future and to be better prepared for what the future holds. Yes, the government is doing that in part by making investments and taking action to protect Canada's water, air, and natural areas for our children, our grandchildren, and future generations while also creating a clean world-class economy, as I just mentioned.
Everyone knows that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, although to judge from some of the speeches from the opposition side today, it sounds like some people still need to be convinced.
In Canada and abroad, the impacts of climate change can be seen in coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, and increases in heat waves, droughts, and flooding. Our shared quality of life and our present and future prosperity are deeply connected to the environment in which we live.
I would like to underline that our approach to putting a price on carbon pollution has been collaborative from the start. The government worked with its provincial, territorial, and indigenous partners to adopt the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change in December 2016. The framework provides provinces and territories with the flexibility to choose between two systems: an explicit price-based system or a cap-and-trade system. Carbon pollution pricing is in place in four provinces, namely Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta, covering more than 80% of Canada's population. These provinces are also leading Canada in job creation and growth. All other provinces have committed to adopting some form of carbon pollution pricing. Under Bill , the direct revenue from the carbon charges on pollution under the federal system would go back to the province or territory of origin.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand and benefit all Canadians now and for future generations.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with the hard-working member for today.
When I was asked yesterday to speak to the latest Liberal cover-up, I said, “Sure, but which one?” Was it the cover-up on the outlook and program expenses in the budget? In the budget, in spite all the added funding that the Liberals are throwing out there for DND and indigenous infrastructure and the added money for the student summer jobs so that they could finance anti-oil protesters, real spending over the five years, as outlined in the budget, has actually dropped.
We asked the finance department, but it had no answer; it was covering up. PBO asked the government how it was going to accomplish that; Liberals refused to answer. I thought maybe the cover-up they wanted me to speak on was the Liberal Phoenix fiasco cover-up, when the Liberals refused to release the fact that IBM, which they blamed consistently over the last couple of years for their mess-up, had told them explicitly not to start the Phoenix program because it was not ready.
I wondered if the cover-up could be about the UBS rogue trader cover-up. The government has told an investigator it will take 800 years to get all the information released under the Access to Information Act. Perhaps this is Panama papers 2.0 they are trying to cover up.
Could it be the infrastructure cover-up, the billions and billions of infrastructure money that the PBO cannot seem to find? The Liberals had announced $14 billion in 2016, but the PBO could only find about seven billion dollars in the last budget. We asked, but the government refuses to answer. Perhaps it cannot answer.
Could it be the combat ship cost cover-up they wanted me to talk about? The Parliamentary Budget Officer, when trying to cost out the ships—which he figures to be about $60 billion, although some experts are now saying $100 billion—had to go to the United States to get costing on the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer in the U.S. and bring that information back to Canada to extrapolate costs for ours because the government refused to release the information on the costing. In fact, the government has refused to release the details of the request for proposal to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. We do not know how much even the main contractor is going to be paid on a cost plus basis. Will it be cost plus 10%, cost plus 18%? We do not know, because the government is covering up.
One thing we do know is that the main contractor will be allowed to sole-source to itself on the shipbuilding. It could take a $100-million contract, sole-source it one of its subsidiaries, add the unknown markup to it, and ding the taxpayers.
We asked the government how it is going to police this issue. It says it does not have an answer. I am not sure if the government does not have an answer or if it just will not give an answer.
What about the defence spending cover-up? The Liberals have talked about a 315% increase in defence spending over the years. We have not seen that kind of increase in spending since the Korean War. Defence experts say it is impossible, given the government's current procurement processing capacity, so we know they will not be able to get to that. Perhaps they can protect us from North Korean missiles with more announcements and speeches.
It turns out that my staff wanted me to talk about the carbon tax cover-up. I wish they had mentioned it from the beginning, because it could have saved a few minutes. I have asked my team to be more specific in the future.
We have asked the government time and again for information on its carbon tax initiative, and every time we do, we are hit with lukewarm talking points that give us nothing substantial beyond the holding lines. We know the government has done the costing, because we had the report. What we do not have is all the hidden information behind the report.
If the Liberals are so proud of their record on this issue, why do they not release the redacted information? A failure to disclose information tells me that they are hiding something. If they are not hiding anything, they should just simply disclose the information they have. They say they want a higher standard of debate in this place, but they give us nothing to work with, nothing to debate, because they are too afraid of the consequences of their actions.
The carbon taxes are of massive public interest. They affect everyone. We have a responsibility as elected officials to debate and discuss the effects of the federal legislation, and this plan will have large ramifications across the board. It raises the price of home heating, electricity, groceries, and gas, but the Liberals refuse to tell Canadians how much this tax hike will cost and what it will achieve. We know it is going to add about 11¢ per litre to the price of gas, something I am sure that people in B.C. would love to hear right now, but that is not all.
About 51% of Canadians heat their homes with natural gas, and experts claim that the carbon tax will add about $260 per year. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation figures it is going to cost every family about $2,500 per year. Trevor Tombe, at the University of Calgary, estimates a bit lower, but it is still about $1,100.
I know people on that side of the House probably think it is not that much money, but $1,100 to $2,500 per family is a lot of money. Average family income before tax is $80,000 a year, so it is a 3% tax grab on pre-tax dollars just for the carbon tax. It could be rent payments, sports for the kids, university tuition. These are all things that Canadian families can kiss goodbye thanks to this costly plan, but the government refuses to come clean on it.
The told us that a price on carbon could have to go as high as $100 per tonne in 2020 and $300 per tonne in 2050 to meet the government's 2030 targets, but that is not just individual costs; the carbon tax will have a huge impact on Alberta's oil and gas sector as well. Last week, I had a round table with various groups from the energy sector, including academia, labour groups, business groups, and provincial partners, and it was clear that the biggest barrier to growth and economic prosperity in Alberta is investment fleeing from our energy sector and from the carbon tax. The carbon tax makes everything we produce more uncompetitive. It punishes places of worship and the not-for-profits. The Edmonton Food Bank, for example, is getting hit with thousands of dollars of added costs, and a not-for-profit cannot just pass these costs on to customers.
We met with the local cement industry. It is losing out on government contracts because it cannot compete with Chinese bidders because of the added price of a carbon tax. Let us just think about it. Taxpayers' money is going to a foreign competitor that has a horrible environmental record because we have handicapped our cleaner and local industries.
This is what Dr. Andrew Leach talks about when he refers to the carbon leakage. In the end, we are not reducing overall carbon emissions worldwide; we're just moving it to other jurisdictions, mostly with worse environmental standards. The energy sector needs job-creating policy and proposals, not more regulation and higher taxes to operate. Nothing drives away business investment quite like a commitment against business investment, such as we have seen with the government giving taxpayers' money to fund anti-oil protesters.
We have repeatedly asked how much the Liberal carbon tax will cost families, but the and the have flat out refused to answer. If the government will not tell us the cost of its carbon tax, how can it expect Canadians to trust it at all? It is time to table the fully unredacted report. It is time to tell the House, and Canadians as well, what the carbon tax is going to cost Canadians.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer expects a full $10-billion hit to the economy because of the carbon tax. We have seen the GST on the carbon tax. It is a tax on the tax. It is costing Albertans, people in Ontario, and British Columbians a third of a billion dollars. My colleague from put through a private member's bill to stop this tax on a tax, but the Liberal government simply says it is not a tax but a levy, and it will continue to charge what it calls a revenue-neutral tax, which we know is a sham.
Again, I ask the government to table the full unredacted report. It is time to come clean. It is time to end the Liberal carbon tax cover-up.
Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak on this important issue. I want to thank the member for for his incredible passion for the environment. I appreciate his good work in representing his community well.
The question before us today is how much the carbon tax will cost the average Canadian. That is an important question. When people go shopping and see something they like, the first thing that comes to mind is whether they need it. Although it may look nice, they would ask themselves if they need it and how much it costs. We were looking to downsize, because as we age we do not need as big a house as we do not have the kids. Therefore, we wanted to downsize to a much more energy-efficient home. We found something that had a master bedroom on the main floor. I liked it. It looked good, and it would work for us. It would make livability greater and easier as it was much smaller. However, how much does it cost? That is the first thing Canadians ask. That is the normal process. Whether it is clothing or food, we would look at something and ask ourselves whether we need it and how much it costs.
When we go to a restaurant, the first thing we look at is the menu. Can members imagine if none of the items on the menu had prices? What does that tell us? It tells us that we might want to leave because we have no idea what it is going to cost. That is not fair. If there are no prices on the menu, that is a great hint that it is going to cost a lot of money. Whatever the example, Canadians deserve to know what it will cost and whether it will work.
We have heard great speeches. The Liberals have practised their talking points, for years, actually. I am looking back to the previous report from the environment commissioner, where she said that there was a great gap between what the Liberals say and what they actually do, and that good intentions are not enough. She also said, “When it comes to protecting the environment, bold announcements are made and then often forgotten as soon as the confetti hits the ground.... The federal government seems to have trouble crossing the finish line.” Nothing has changed. There are great announcements, great platitudes, and great talking points.
I can speak first-hand with respect to this. Canadians from the riding of Langley—Aldergrove, which I am honoured to represent, love protecting the environment. They want clean streams and clean air, not only for themselves but for their children and grandchildren. It is a community in the suburbs of Vancouver that puts a high importance on clean environment. Every year since I became a member of Parliament we nominate people who are recognized as environmental heroes in three different categories: business, youth, and individual. Every year we recognize them, and a brass plaque is put at the bottom of a tree at the national historic sites, such as the fort in Fort Langley. The environment is very important. However, these people have to drive because public transit is very limited. In Canada, public transit does not meet all our needs, so Canadians have to drive their vehicles.
The plan with respect to the carbon tax is to tax people to the level where they will stop driving their cars. If we make it so onerous, they will have to change those habits of using carbon, such as using gasoline in their cars or heating their homes. The Liberals want the temperature in homes to be lowered to the point that we start putting on sweaters. This is what we are talking about. If the price of carbon goes high enough, it will affect people's behaviour.
What is the price of gasoline in Vancouver right now? It is $1.629 a litre, and that is for regular. That is the highest in North America. Now, the said that people in Langley should be applauding this. He said that just 10 minutes ago.
In the former Parliament, I was the parliamentary secretary for the minister of the environment, and we did a good job. I was in Copenhagen preparing for one of the COP meetings, and we set the targets as a government. We said that to reduce carbon emissions globally, everybody has to participate and not just Canada.
We set a good example. We set targets, and those same targets are the targets that the current government has adopted. The Liberals are using the former Conservative government targets. The targets are good and they are achievable, but how are the Liberals going to do it? They are going to do it by raising taxes for all Canadians to the point where they start to groan—not applaud, but groan. It is absolutely wrong.
Therefore, Canadians want to know what it is going to cost, and whether it will work. That is the other question. Will raising the carbon tax on everything have the desired effect? Will it reduce global emissions and greenhouse gas emissions coming out of Canada?
We have heard a lot of promises from the Liberal government. One of the promises about this new carbon tax is that the provinces will have to put it in, as is mandated, and if they do not, it will be forced on them. Also, it will be federally revenue-neutral. Is that true? Well, we looked, and sure enough, in last year's budget there was a massive increase in GST benefits. Where is that coming from? It is GST on the carbon tax. It is a tax on a tax. Canadians were not applauding. They were groaning and saying that it is not fair to charge tax on a tax. The GST is a tax on goods and services. Is the carbon tax a good? No, it is not. Is it a service? No. Is it an onerous burden? Yes. Is that what we are supposed to be charging tax on? No.
The said that it would be revenue-neutral. Of course, Conservatives want to make sure that the government is keeping its promises, so we helped it. I was honoured to introduce Bill , which is a very simple bill. The bill said that it is not fair to charge tax on a tax. Of course, Canadians expected every member of this Parliament to support a common sense bill. It is a bill that would have helped the Liberal government keep its promises. Did it keep its promises? No. It was a sad day.
Therefore, we turn to the experts, if the government is not going to tell us how much this tax is going to cost: “just trust us”; “we know what we're doing”; “budgets do balance themselves”; “we'll just keep taxing until emissions come down”. However, emissions will come down if people cannot drive their cars. Emissions will come down if factories close, if jobs are lost, and if investment dollars leave Canada and go to another country where they are more competitive. Tomatoes will not be grown in greenhouses in Canada, because it will be cheaper to import them from Mexico. Pipelines will be stopped, so we will not have a way to move our natural resources. The government is funding protesters.
The trajectory we are on may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but after the dust settles, it will be a disaster created by the Liberals. Lost jobs and people out of work are not what Canadians want.
The Liberals talk about social licence, but the only way the government will have social licence to proceed with this is if it is honest and open.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I rise today to contribute to the case for a price on pollution, to give households and businesses a powerful incentive to save money by making greener choices, to provide clear direction and incentives for the further development of Canada's clean-tech sector, to strengthen our ever-improving international reputation, and as a key aspect of our clean growth and climate plan.
Pricing carbon pollution works. This is a key result of the new analysis that our government published earlier this week. The study found that by 2022, a nationwide price on carbon pollution that meets the federal standard would eliminate 80 million to 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a major contribution to meeting Canada's climate target under the Paris Agreement. It is the equivalent of taking between 23 million and 26 million cars off the road for a year. To put it in context, our government's decision to phase out coal-fired electricity, a very important step to protect the health of Canadians as well as to address climate change, is estimated to cut carbon pollution by 16 million tonnes in 2030. Our analysis finds that pricing carbon pollution will deliver five times the reductions of phasing out coal.
Our carbon pricing study also found that growth would remain strong with a nationwide price on carbon pollution. Canada's GDP is expected to grow by about 2% a year between now and 2022 without carbon pricing.
Pricing pollution is a win for the environment and for the economy. It is the approach that economists overwhelmingly recommend. It is the policy that over 30 governments and 150 businesses have come together to support through the international Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, a group that includes Canada's five major banks alongside Canadian companies in the consumer goods, energy, and resource development sectors, and yet members of the party opposite said that they plan to reach our Paris Agreement targets without putting a price on carbon. This makes absolutely no sense, and it most certainly does not reflect a sound risk management approach or a vision for Canada's innovation economy.
Acting on climate change is a shared responsibility. Our government has developed Canada's clean growth and climate action plan in partnership with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples. Provinces have been leaders in pricing pollution when the federal government under former prime minister Harper was afraid to act. I am particularly proud, of course, of British Columbia's leadership in this regard, and I recall a decade of absolutely no support whatsoever, in fact, regression, on the part of the federal government at that time.
Our pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon intends to ensure a level playing field on carbon pricing across the country. The approach will expand the application of carbon already in place in Canada's four largest provinces to the rest of Canada. Right now, four out of five Canadians live in jurisdictions that are already pricing carbon. Those four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia, are also the provinces that led the country in economic growth last year.
Under Canada's clean growth and climate action plan, revenues from pricing pollution will always be returned to the province or territory they come from. If a province or territory adopts its own carbon pricing system that meets the federal standard, that jurisdiction will decide how to use the revenues. In B.C. today, for instance, carbon pricing revenues fund tax cuts for small businesses and households. In Alberta, the revenues support rebates to families, action to phase out coal, and investment in energy efficiency. In Ontario, revenues from carbon pricing support clean energy, like solar panels. In Quebec, carbon pricing funds climate action, like investments in public transit. Carbon pricing is recognized as a cost-effective way to reduce emissions and stimulate clean growth.
The costs of inaction on climate change are significant. I recall when I was mayor of West Vancouver sitting in a seminar with Lloyd's of London representatives well over a decade ago, where the underwriters and insurance industry leaders globally expressed their growing concern regarding the cost of extreme and unpredictable storm events, patterns of human settlement, and which housing developments would be even worth underwriting. That was ages ago.
Some estimates suggest that climate change will cost Canada's economy $5 billion a year by 2020. We know from examples from around the world that putting a price on carbon pollution helps to drive innovation and create good, middle-class jobs. According to the World Bank, jurisdictions representing about half the global economy are putting a price on carbon, not even including China's national system, which was recently announced.
While it has been interesting to listen to the opposition as it looks in its rear-view mirror, pricing carbon pollution is the new normal. It spurs clean innovation, helping Canada to compete and prosper in the $23-trillion economic opportunity that clean growth represents around the world. Governments can and should design their carbon pricing systems to avoid putting extra financial pressure on low-income and middle-class households. For example, provinces can choose to provide money-back rebates, cut taxes, or fund discounts on energy saving programs and technology. That has certainly been borne out in British Columbia.
Governments in Canada are already making those choices. In Alberta, approximately 60% of households receive full or partial rebates to offset the cost of the carbon levy. Families that earn less than $95,000 a year receive a full rebate to offset the costs associated with the carbon levy.
Our government knows that pricing carbon pollution strengthens the economy and promotes a cleaner environment. This is the work that we are doing each and every day for our children and grandchildren to help Canadians prosper. The party opposite does not share that vision. Under Stephen Harper, the party opposite spent a decade failing to act to cut carbon pollution. Canadians deserve better. Canadians deserve a serious, smart, and thoughtful plan to protect the environment and grow the economy.
Putting a price on carbon pollution is an important aspect of our plan to transition and to grow a low-carbon economy.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and address the important issue of a price on pollution.
In listening to many of the Conservatives who stood in their place to contribute to the discussion, one would quickly conclude that they continue to disregard what Canadians are thinking on this important issue.
The idea that technology can make our planet a better place to work and that the government has a role in investing in greener technology or in providing incentives, working with stakeholders, particularly provincial governments, to have a positive impact on both the economy and the environment is something that seems to somewhat escape the Conservatives.
I want to highlight one industry in particular, that being farming, and what a lot of us could learn from our farmers. Thanks to our hard-working farmers, today Canada's agriculture and food system is a powerful driver of our economy. It generates $111.9 billion of our GDP, over $64 billion of our exports, and one in eight jobs. Our farmers have done all that while leading the way in responsible environmental stewardship.
The sector has a solid track record in innovation and the adoption of new technologies that have reduced GHG emissions. From drones to GPS systems, farmers are using precision farming to make sure that they are making the most efficient use of chemicals and fertilizers. Innovation in land management, feeding, breeding, and genetics are helping our farmers feed the world while lessening the sector's environmental footprint.
Increased adoption by Canadian producers of conservation tillage and reduced summer fallow have increased the amount of carbon stored in soil. Leaving plant material on the ground reduces soil erosion, retains moisture, builds organic matter, and captures carbon in the soil. No-till was pioneered by scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Today almost 50 million acres of Canadian farmland is no-till.
Last year, in parts of the Prairies, there was less rain than during the famous dust bowl of the 1930s, yet farmers in the area did not have a complete crop failure. Overall, the grain harvest in western Canada was the third highest on record, and that is thanks to technologies like soil conservation and world-class plant genetics.
The sector has also reduced livestock emissions through improved feeding, breeding, and dedicated research. Thanks to these advancements over the past three decades, greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of beef have declined by 15%. As a result, Canadian beef has among the lowest carbon footprint in the world. A glass of milk today has one-third the carbon footprint it did in the 1950s. It is all about using technology to work smarter, and it makes sense for both the environment and the farmer's bottom line.
Look at what this government has been able to accomplish in the last two and a half years, whether it is in negotiations with international leaders or here on the national scene.
Shortly after the last federal election, the went to Paris, where an agreement was achieved. Working with indigenous people, provinces, and territories, we were able to bring home what took place in Paris, where governments all around the world reached an agreement. We were able to arrive at a consensus here in Canada that putting a price on carbon was the way to go. Not only the federal government here in Canada but governments around the world have recognized the value of this.
Let us talk about lost opportunities. We can talk about the Conservative approach to the environment and the need to advance a cleaner, healthier environment into the future. That is a lost opportunity.
The current leader, who is often confused with a Harper look-alike with a smile, said that he has a plan. The Conservative Party has a plan, but it does not want to share that plan. It says that we should wait until the election comes rolling around, and then it will share that plan. That plan is no plan, the same plan Stephen Harper had. There is no difference. People will find it challenging to find a difference between the current Conservative Party and the Harper government Canadians voted against. They wanted a change.
Yesterday, when the former prime minister's name came up, opposition members from the Conservative Party were cheering, as if they missed the guy. Most Canadians do not miss Stephen Harper. They recognize that it was important to have that change, yet the Conservative Party still believes that change is not necessary and that it is okay to have no plan when it comes to the environment. All the Conservatives do is criticize and say that a price on pollution is a bad thing and that Canadians do not support it, even though 80% of Canadians are already familiar with paying a price on carbon in one form or another.
When the Conservatives are confronted with facts, they deny them. It is not like a price on carbon is absolutely new to Canadians. It has been in the province of British Columbia for around 10 years. If we look at what is happening in British Columbia, it is not suffering as a result of having a price on pollution. Its economy is doing exceptionally well. It is either first or second, depending on the years we look at. Some may say that the overall emissions have gone up, but the overall population of British Columbia has gone up, as it has been and continues to be a major attraction for people.
The point is that it has a price on carbon, and it is not the only jurisdiction that does. Eight of the 10 provinces already have some form of price on pollution in place. It seems to me that the only ones who are adamantly against it are members of the Conservative Party of Canada. That is why I highlight the fact that they continue to be out of touch with what Canadians are thinking. They are still living in the past. They need to wake up and understand that the economy and the environment can go hand in hand in prospering our country, enhancing our middle class, and creating green jobs in the future that have the potential to expand our economy. By having a healthier economy, we will have a healthier middle class. We do not have to fear a greener economy.
I remember having a tour of a facility in Winnipeg North a number of years ago that was taking some of the ingredients from used shingle tiles from roofs and putting them into asphalt. At one time, we would take the shingles from roofs and pay a landfill $40 or $50 to dump them there. Now they are being recycled. In many ways, companies pay now to receive shingles.
The technology is there. We have many scientists and engineers in Canada who are eager to take on this whole idea. We finally have a government that has recognized it and has provided resources and support to ensure that we continue to advance.
Much like our farming industry, there is good reason for us to be optimistic that a price on pollution, in the long term, will generate jobs and opportunities, and we will have a healthier economy and a healthier environment.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
It was with great hilarity that I listened to my Manitoba colleague's speech. One thing that I noticed was that not a single number came out of his mouth. It was all straight opinion.
Numbers are important. If there is no talk about numbers, there is no talk about environmental policy. If there are no numbers, there are no facts. Numbers are, in essence, science. The government professes to support science, but let us notice how it obfuscates, skates around issues, and presents no proof of what it says. It simply does not care about science.
I would like to quote a sage from 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates of Kos, who said, “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” All I heard from the member opposite was nothing but opinions.
Let us look at the numbers regarding the carbon tax, which is the signature policy of the government in terms of the cost to the economy. One would think that the government would use metrics, but knowing the government's proclivity for obfuscation, there are two possibilities: either the government knows the real number in terms of the cost to the economy but will not tell, or it is blindly charging ahead with no idea of the effect on the environment or the economy.
Interestingly, my colleague from Manitoba talked about B.C. and all that kind of stuff. I am going to segue into a letter from a citizen from Seattle. He was talking about the activists in B.C. He said, “Thanks to [those activists] who seem to have once again to have blocked an oil pipeline to the coast. Those of us living south of the border will continue to enjoy importing your oil at substantial discounts while exporting our oil from Gulf ports at world market prices. Your gift to us, around $100 million per day Canadian, is greatly appreciated. We marvel at your generosity while doubting your sanity. All of this will have zero impact on the global climate, of course.”
Again, the effects of what the government is doing in terms of blocking Canada's oil exports and in terms of its climate pricing are truly daunting.
A few weeks ago, I challenged the in committee to provide a number in terms of how much reduction there would be in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the carbon tax. I demanded answers. She was just going around and around. Throughout her answer, I asked, “What is the number? What is the number?” Naturally, she gave us nothing. In fact, the exchange was so hilarious that it was featured on This Hour has 22 Minutes. The whole segment was on how the government provides no answers to any specific questions.
Let us come up with a few answers for the effect on the economy of a $50-a-tonne carbon tax, which is what the government wants. A $50-a-tonne carbon tax will increase fuel prices by 11.6¢ per litre. Canadians can go to the natural resources website and see that Canada consumes about 105 billion litres per year of domestic fuel, so when we do the math, we see that Canadians will pay about an extra $12 billion per year for domestic fuel. That means the average family, just for that alone, will pay between $1,000 and $2,000 per year extra.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer has a very interesting article, headed “PBO says carbon tax will knock $10 billion off GDP by 2022”.
The government's carbon pricing plan will cause the GDP to drop, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's (PBO) latest report, costing Canadians $10 billion they would otherwise have gained by 2022.
The article went on to say:
The report warns that the levy will “generate a headwind” for the economy as the price on carbon is boosted from $10 per tonne of CO2 in 2018 to $50 per tonne in 2022.
It adds, “...in economic terms, headwinds aren't a good thing.”
In terms of the effect on rural and northern communities and poor people, the member for Nunavut—and I spent a fair bit of time in Nunavut myself in a previous life—spoke at length. He asked the parliamentary secretary about some kind of price relief for the Nunavummiut. Anyone who has been to any community in Nunavut—indeed, in much of the Northwest Territories as well—will know diesel fuel powers those communities. Also, snowmobiles are very expensive and use a lot of fuel. They are vital for the hunting, trapping, and fishing that people in those regions engage in. The answer the parliamentary secretary gave was basically that they would look at it and think of something.
My own riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa is the size of Nova Scotia. It is a very dispersed riding, with lots of small and remote communities and lots of wide open spaces. There is no public transportation, so people have to drive, regardless of their income. My constituency is one of the lower-income constituencies in Canada. Not only are our people forced to use their vehicles—keep in mind we love our pickup trucks—but so are farmers. The member opposite went on about agriculture. We agree how terrific our farmers are, as the member for pointed out so eloquently. Community farmers are price-takers and not price-makers. They will not be able to recover those carbon tax costs. I go back to the point that rural people have no option but to drive.
Going back to the cost of carbon tax, there was a report done by Chris Ragan, the chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission. He pointed out that Canada currently emits 700 million tonnes of emissions annually. A price of $50 per tonne placed on these emissions comes to $35 billion, and in an interview he said that this is not the most efficient model for growing the economy. He went on to say, “The best way, if you really care about economic growth, is you use the revenue from a carbon price to reduce the most growth retarding tax we have, which is a corporate income tax.”
Thirty-five billion dollars per year is the upper estimate, so it would be between $10 billion and $30 billion per year.
Again, a report from the Conference Board of Canada states that carbon pricing alone can't meet Canada's GHG reduction targets.
The government's record on the environment is absolutely appalling. It is long on rhetoric but woefully short of results. It is appalling hypocrisy. Montreal and Quebec were allowed to discharge millions of litres of sewage. What did we hear from the other side? We heard crickets. Victoria is currently dumping raw sewage. The wetlands fund and the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program were cancelled.
We ask ourselves what the outcome of the carbon tax will be. It should be a truism in environmental policy that when one does an environmental project, there is an environmental outcome. If a scrubber is put on a smokestack, SO2 is reduced. What is the outcome of the carbon tax?
When Conservatives do environmental policy, we insist on real and measurable results for environmental programs and policies. For example, when Brian Mulroney was prime minister, he negotiated the acid rain treaty. Those were very tough, tense negotiations with the Americans, but there was a clear and definite result for our environment. Our government would put in place new parks, remediate contaminated sites, restore wetland funds, and on and on, producing real results.
Given the flaws in the government's carbon tax plan and the cascading of the GST on top of the carbon tax, which will result in significant cost to Canadian families and the economy, I am very pleased to support the motion by my colleague.