moved that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, hon. members, I am pleased to rise in this august chamber to speak to Bill , the second act to implement this year's budget.
This bill represents the next step in the government's plan to strengthen the middle class and to help those working hard to join it so that every Canadian has real and equal opportunities to succeed.
From the beginning of its mandate, our government has rejected austerity measures and cuts. Instead, we implemented a long-term plan with targeted investments that create the conditions for economic growth that benefits everyone. These investments are making a difference and will continue to do so. They will result in better opportunities for our children to achieve their dreams, find good jobs and give back to their community.
Before I speak about the budget implementation bill, I would like to point out some of the government's main achievements to date.
We instituted a new support system to help Canadian families with the high cost of raising children. The Canada child benefit is simpler, more generous, tax-free and better targeted than the former benefit system, and it has helped nine out of 10 families get ahead.
The Canada child benefit provides even more financial assistance to the low- and middle-income families who need it most, which is in line with our commitment to offer all Canadians equal opportunities to succeed. Single-parent families account for about 65% of recipients who receive the maximum Canada child benefit amount, and over 90% of these families are led by single mothers.
I calculated what my mother would have received when she was raising me and my brother as a single mother, and it would have made her cry to see how generous the benefit was and to see what an incredible difference it would have made in our lives, in the same way it is making a huge difference in the lives of many Canadians. The difference is noticeable in my riding and in local Saint Vincent de Paul shops, because our approach is much more progressive than the former government's program, which sent cheques to millionaires' families.
In budget 2018, the government also introduced measures to index the Canada child benefit to the cost of living as of July 2018, two years earlier than planned.
From day one, our focus has been on strengthening the middle class and economic growth. To help Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money and use it as they see fit, one of the first things the government did upon taking office was cut taxes for the middle class, a move that is helping over nine million Canadians.
A typical middle-class family of four will receive about $2,000 more each year as a result of the middle-class tax cut and the Canada child benefit.
For single-parent average-income households with two children, or for families with two children where only one parent is earning an average income, the benefits are even more significant. When the tax-free Canada child benefit and other benefits are added to family income, those families pay effective personal tax rates of less than 2%, which means they keep more than 98% of what they earn.
Because of these changes, more families will be able to pay for things like healthy food, back-to-school clothes and new winter boots for growing kids.
These are changes that will actually improve the lives of children and parents across the country.
Since 2015, the government has made historic investments to support our communities in infrastructure, innovation, science and research.
The government has also secured new and modernized trade agreements. In fact, we are the only G7 country to have trade agreements with every other G7 country. The recently negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, USMCA, will give those in the business community the confidence they need to continue to invest in Canada. They can rest assured that this critically vital trading relationship is safe and secure.
With all of these measures in place, it is no wonder that the economic picture at home is encouraging. Our economy is strong and growing. Our economic growth, which stood at 3% in 2017, was the highest in the G7, and we expect to stay among the fastest-growing economies this year and next.
On another good news front, thanks to the hard work of Canadians, the past three years have seen the creation of more than half a million new full-time jobs. These new jobs have pushed the unemployment rates to nearly 40-year lows.
There is yet more good news on wage growth. For the average Canadian worker, wage growth is outpacing inflation. In fact, if current trends hold, 2018 could mark one of the strongest years of wage growth since the great recession of 2008-2009.
With more money in their pockets, Canadian consumers have a reason to feel confident about their financial situation. Consumer confidence is near historic highs. This is not only the case with individual Canadians, but also for the companies they run.
After-tax profits for Canadian businesses have nearly doubled since 2015. This means that companies have more money available to invest, to create good new jobs and to spur economic growth.
This positive outlook reflects Canada's many competitive strengths. Some of these strengths are our highly-skilled labour force, preferential access to global markets and a strong research and start-up capacity in emerging fields. We know that keeping and expending these strength demands government policies that keep the focus squarely on people and give every Canadians the means to contribute fully to our society and our economy.
The second budget implementation act before us is intended to implement items from budget 2018 that put people first. By passing the measures in this bill, we will take further steps to invest in Canadians, grow the middle class and help those working hard to join it. Through this bill, more people will have an opportunity to succeed.
This bill includes an important measure to stimulate economic growth, namely the new Canada workers benefit, or CWB.
Starting in 2019, the new CWB will represent an improved version of the current working income tax benefit. The CWB is designed to encourage more people to enter the workforce and to help more than two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.
With increased maximum benefits, the new CWB will provide even more support to the people who receive it. In addition, the CWB's expanded eligible income range will ensure that more workers are entitled to it.
Under the new CWB, a low-income worker who earns $15,000 annually could get almost $500 more in benefits in 2019 than she is getting this year. That amount of money can really change things for many Canadians.
Starting in 2019, the government also plans to improve how this support is distributed by allowing the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the benefit amount for all tax filers who did not apply for the benefit. Automatic payment of the benefit to eligible tax filers is a measure that would be particularly useful for people with limited mobility, those who live far from points of service and those who do not have Internet access.
It is estimated that, as a result of this measure, an additional 300,000 low-income workers will receive the new CWB for the 2019 tax year. Overall, improvements to the new CWB will lift approximately 70,000 Canadians out of poverty by 2020.
I would now like to talk about another main component of this bill, and that is greater equality. Although Canadian women are among the most educated in the world, they are less likely to participate in the labour force than men and are more likely to work part time. Canadian women are often called upon to meet unpaid work demands, which prevents them from pursuing opportunities that would help them reach their full potential.
What is more, the under-representation of women in leadership positions remains a reality. The vast majority of Canadian businesses are run by men. It goes without saying that our economy is not operating at full capacity when the women who want to participate in it and hold leadership positions cannot do so.
For us, it is clear that gender equality would benefit everyone. The participation of women in the labour market has been one of the strongest sources of economic growth in recent decades. Over the past 40 years, the increased number of women in the labour market accounted for approximately one-third of real per capita GDP growth in Canada. Higher female workforce participation rates have also increased household incomes and helped families move into the middle class.
However, there are still far too many missed opportunities because of the gender gap. There are many factors that contribute to that gap, but taking action to close it is not just the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do to strengthen the middle class and grow Canada's economy.
According to RBC Economics, if the labour force participation rates of women and men were equal, Canada's GDP could see a boost of as much as 4%. That would be enough to partially offset the impacts of an aging population.
Our government recognizes the essential role of gender equality in building a strong economy that benefits everyone. That is why we are committed to developing budgets taking into account the fact that the choices made and policies adopted affect different people in different ways. Reviewing proposed budget measures from a gendered lens is one way to ensure a more equitable and efficient use of government resources.
In order to ensure that this is achieved immediately, the bill before us today enacts legislation to promote gender budgeting. This measure will ensure that government policies to advance gender equality and inclusion are not just an option but rather a requirement in the preparation of future federal budgets. Since rules are not enough to bring about real change, this legislation also introduces reporting requirements to ensure proper accountability.
There is also another way in which this bill would foster opportunities for women and men and help all Canadians realize their potential and fully participate in the economy. For most Canadians, the best time to start a family coincides with the parents' prime career-building years. Right now, new parents can use EI benefits to ensure their financial security while they are taking time off from work to care for their children. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that the burden of child care still falls disproportionately on women. We know that women and families are better off when parental responsibilities are divided more equally. That is why the government wants to make the EI system more flexible and encourage a more balanced sharing of responsibilities, so that both parents get to spend time with their young children while pursuing careers.
To support young families and promote gender equality at work and at home, the act proposes a new EI parental sharing benefit that will encourage a more balanced sharing of family and work responsibilities by providing five additional weeks of benefits in cases where both parents agree to share their parental leave. This period will be extended to eight weeks if the parents opt for extended parental benefits. This optional incentive will encourage the second parent in two-parent families to share equally in parenting responsibilities. New mothers will have more flexibility to return to work sooner if they wish. Equitable parental leave could lead to fairer hiring practices, which would reduce conscious or unconscious discrimination against women by employers.
In budget 2018, the government took an innovative approach to the systemic undervaluation of women by announcing legislation to reduce the gender wage gap in federally-regulated workplaces. This legislation is included in the bill we are debating today. Requiring equal pay for work of equal value is an effective means of reducing the gender wage gap, promoting an improvement in women's gains and increasing women's contribution to the economy. That is why the government is now introducing pay equity legislation for federally-regulated sectors.
The new pay equity act, which will apply to approximately 1.2 million Canadian employees, requires federal public and private sector employers that have 10 or more employees to establish and maintain a pay equity plan. This plan would identify and correct differences in compensation between men and women for work of equal value. The legislation also establishes a pay equity commissioner who will report annually to Parliament on the administration of the act to ensure it has a real impact. The commissioner's role in facilitating dispute resolution, conducting compliance audits and imposing monetary penalties for violations of the act will ensure enforcement and proper accountability.
A last major aspect of the second budget implementation act is the steps it takes to protect our environment. Canadians know that polluting is not free. Costs are paid with droughts, floods, wildfires and our health. Canadians expect polluters to pay, because it is the right thing to do for future generations.
Climate change is expected to cost our economy $5 billion a year by 2020. Simply put, if we are to reduce the greenhouse gases causing climate change, pollution can no longer be free in this country. To act otherwise would be a betrayal of our responsibilities as federal lawmakers and a betrayal of future generations of Canadians, and I would argue, of my generation.
Putting a price on pollution is central to the government's plan to fight climate change while growing the economy and building a brighter future for all Canadians. Pricing pollution is the most effective way to reduce emissions, because it creates incentives for businesses and households to make cleaner choices and find innovative solutions.
This act legislates a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution with the aim of having pollution pricing in place in all provinces and territories in 2019. As part of this plan, the government has established a Canada-wide federal standard for reducing pollution and has given provinces and territories the flexibility to choose a system that meets this standard and that works best for them.
Furthermore, all proceeds from pollution pricing from jurisdictions that have signed on to the federal system will be returned directly to the government of these jurisdictions. In provinces that have not committed to pricing carbon pollution, the federal government will return the bulk of direct proceeds directly to individuals and families residing in those provinces through climate action incentive payments. For most households, these payments will help offset or exceed their increased costs related to pollution pricing. The remaining proceeds that are not returned directly to households will go towards providing support to sectors within these provinces that will be particularly affected by pollution pricing.
The government is serious about addressing the costs of pollution and is taking concrete steps to back its commitments. This is the only responsible course of action to take as we see increasing signs of climate change all around us, and we have stepped up to that responsibility.
This government is advancing its plans to create a better future for all Canadians by investing in people and in communities. We are building on Canada's economic strengths and advancing our competitiveness by seizing opportunities in global markets. This second budget implementation act contains essential measures to achieve these goals, and I urge all hon. members to support it.
Madam Speaker, today I will address the three inevitable stages of every Liberal tax increase.
First, there is the insult. Second, there is the tax increase itself. Third, there is the high-tax hypocrisy. I will give numerous examples of where this exact same cycle has played out every time the Liberals have targeted modest and middle-income Canadians with higher taxes.
Let us start with the issue of income tax. The started his campaign to raise taxes by calling people “too rich” and therefore claiming they needed to pay more. We did not find out until after the election who he was talking about. We thought he was talking about himself, a multi-millionaire who inherited a trust fund, or maybe the , whose family business was worth $1 billion.
It turned out he was not talking about those people. It turns out the people he thought were too rich and needed to pay more income tax were moms and dads who have kids in soccer and hockey, students who are spending money on textbooks and tuition, and passengers on public transit. They are the ones who saw their taxes go up. They paid more for kids' sports, because they lost the children's fitness tax credit. They paid more to ride public transit, because the transit tax credit was eliminated. Students paid more for the cost of their education, because they could no longer claim their expensive textbooks as an education expense and the education tax credit itself was eliminated.
Those were the people that the was talking about when he said that the rich needed to pay more. He said that if people could put their kids in hockey, they are rich and get to pay higher taxes. If people go to university or college, they are rich, too rich and should pay higher taxes as well. If people take the bus and do not take a limousine like the Prime Minister, they are rich, too, and therefore they should pay higher taxes as well.
All of this is a little rich coming from the recipient of a multi-million dollar trust fund account from his family. It is also rich coming from somebody who spent most of his life living in publicly funded mansions, and driving around in government-funded limousines. However, according to the that is beside the point. It is also a little rich to say that moms and dads have too much money when the Prime Minister forces those same moms and dads to pay higher taxes so that they can fund his $30,000 of free nanny services every year that he uses in his household, while Canadians have to pay for their own child care with their own money.
That is the final stage. He started with insulting moms and dads, calling them rich. Second, he raised their taxes, forcing them to pay more for transit, textbooks, kids' sports and more. Third, of course, is the hypocrisy where the ensures that he gets taxpayer-funded child care services that no one else in the country would receive as part of their employment package.
Again, we have insults, tax increases, then high-tax hypocrisy.
Now we move on to small businesses. Remember when the said, in the last election, that small businesses, according to him, are merely vehicles for rich people to avoid paying taxes. We know that he was referring to plumbers, pizza shop owners, landscapers, shopkeepers and other middle-class people who mortgage their houses to start businesses and employ people in our community. He said that those people are all just tax cheats, and they needed to pay vastly more in order to keep their businesses up and running.
He brought in new penalties. That was the insult. Then came the tax increase. The decided to penalize family businesses for sharing the earnings and work of their business with family members. He then brought in new penalties for small business owners who save for the future within their company. If people keep some money in their company for a rainy day, sick leave, maternity leave, retirement or for a future investment, they would be penalized for any interest earned on that money in the meantime.
The most recent iteration of that penalty is that a small business can lose its small business tax deduction if it has more than $50,000 in investment income within the company. It is a massive tax increase targeted again at the middle class. There is the second step in the cycle. The starts by insulting the small business owners, then he moves to raising their taxes.
Finally, the last stage is high-tax hypocrisy. Who was not taxed more under the Liberal plan? The was not, to start with. There were no new taxes for his multi-million dollar trust fund inherited from his grandfather's petroleum empire, and no new taxes on the speaking fees he collected from charities while he was a member of Parliament and ought to have been giving those speeches for free like other members of Parliament do. There were no new taxes on those speaking fees, which he earned by the way while having the third worst attendance record of any member of Parliament. He is skipping out on his publicly paid duties to be here in order to give paid speaking engagements that most members of Parliament do on their own time and without charge, and there are no new taxes on any of that.
There we have it again. The started with insulting small business people, then he moved to raising their taxes, then he engaged in high-tax hypocrisy by protecting his own interests from any new costs. He extends that hypocrisy to his , whose $1-billion family business saw no tax increase whatsoever under the proposed changes to small business tax rates. His company is big enough to be on the stock market, and all stock market trading companies were excluded from the tax increase altogether.
There we have it: insult the taxpayer, raise the taxes and then engage in high-tax hypocrisy to protect himself and all his friends. That is the three-step approach this takes to every single tax hike.
Now we see it one more time with the carbon tax. The starts off with the insult, which is to call people polluters. Be careful, the polluters are not who we think they are. In the eyes of this Prime Minister, the polluters are grandmothers trying to heat their homes in -40° weather, soccer moms trying to take their kids to soccer practice and single moms trying to take care of their kids or drive to work. Generally, suburban commuters, anybody who has to purchase gas to move themselves around or to heat their home is, in this Prime Minister's view, a polluter. There we start again with the insults by calling everyday suburban Canadians “polluters” in order to justify raising their taxes.
The second step in every Liberal tax increase is to raise the tax itself, and so the has increased taxes on gas, home heating and other basic energy people require in our modern way of life to survive. These costs will roll out throughout every aspect of human life. If we want to heat our homes, drive to work or buy products transported by truck, train or ship, we will pay for more for all those products. If someone is a small business person who has to heat or energize their factory, they will pay more for that tax as well.
We have the insult, then we have the tax increase, and the last step is the hypocrisy, the high-tax hypocrisy. Who is not going to pay this tax? Large industrial emitters, the big corporations with the smokestacks on the top of their factories. Those enterprises would be exempt from the Liberal carbon tax. Just this week, we learned that coal-fired plants would be exempt from the Liberal carbon tax. In New Brunswick, the Belledune coal-fired plant would be allowed to emit 800 tonnes of greenhouse gases for every gigawatt of electricity absolutely tax-free.
Now, the government admits those coal-fired plants will be in operation for at least another 12 years, and that is if we would believe its promise that one day after it is long out of office that it will be able to shut down those coal-fired plants over a decade from now. In the meantime and in between time, those factories would operate without any carbon tax.
The same is true for large cement plants and other large industrial emitters. They will be exempt from the tax increase.
It is all well and good to exempt those corporations that have powerful lobbyists that influence government, but we have asked why the Liberals have not provided the same exemption to small businesses, to families and to others. We still do not have an answer to that question. Of course, that is the high-tax hypocrisy. We have again the three steps of every single tax increase: insult, tax hike and then high-tax hypocrisy. Those are the three steps that we can count on the Liberal government engaging in every single time it wants more of Canadians' money.
What motivates this three-step approach to increase taxes? The answer is it is to fund out-of-control Liberal spending.
Spending has grown at 7% a year since the Liberals took office. That is about three times the combined rate of inflation and population growth, depending on the year. In other words, spending is vastly outpacing the need. Those 7% a year spending increases have to come from somewhere. The government has to source that revenue. It started to do so by borrowing. The government's deficit is three times what the promised. Instead of balancing the budget next year, as the Prime Minister promised while putting his hand on heart during the election campaign and saying it would be gone, now Finance Canada says the deficit will continue until the year 2045, under which plan, the debt will grow by nearly half a trillion dollars until then.
This is all happening in a time when the government's own documents admit it has been the beneficiary of enormous short-term good luck. In the government's annual report, which came out about two weeks ago, the government admits that its revenue is higher by about $20 billion because of factors outside of the government's control: record low interest rates, higher than usual oil prices, a booming U.S. economy, a stronger than normal world economy, a housing bubble, which is slowly coming to an end in Toronto and Vancouver, all of which generate more revenue for the government. In other words, good fortune has fallen out of the sky onto the government's lap. The Liberals admit that in their own financial documents.
If they have an out-of-control deficit that is three times the size they promised in times of good fortune, how big will the deficit become when the luck runs out? The Liberals have not answered that question. I have asked the , at times painfully, 14, 15, 16 times in one committee session, when the budget will be balanced. He utterly refuses to answer. The Liberals have not told us under what conditions would a government ever balance a budget.
It does not matter what one's economic philosophy is, everyone agrees that there should be some point in the business cycle when the budget is balanced. I believe we should ascribe to have a balanced budget all the time, but even if one is a Keynesian economist, one ought to believe that at least when the world economy is roaring and commodity prices are high and interest rates are low, at that point in an economic cycle, for God's sake, the government ought to have a surplus to squirrel away for when times turn bad. However, even under that Keynesian thinking, the government is not living up to the obligation to balance the budget when times are good.
What are the consequences of having these massive deficits? The answer is that, in the short run, we start to pay higher interest costs. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that by the year 2023, our expenditure on debt interest will go from about $24 billion to $40 billion, a two-thirds increase in about half a decade. This means we will be spending more on debt interest than we currently spend on health care transfers. That means more money for bankers and less money for doctors and nurses. Canadians will pay taxes to get nothing in return except to pay off the wealthy and privileged bond holders and bankers that lent us the money and therefore own our future tax receipts.
When I ask residents of my riding what they want their tax dollars spent on, they say roads, hospitals and other essential services that allow them to live their lives. They never tell me that they want to spend it on enriching bankers and bond holders. That is exactly the consequence of government decisions to pile up new and unnecessary debt on the current generation and on generations yet unborn.
That is the immediate consequence of higher spending, but there is the medium-term consequence which of course is higher taxes. Those consequences are already starting to become known. Middle-class Canadians are already paying $800 more in income tax than they were when the took office.
As I said earlier, small businesses are paying higher taxes to support the government's spending habit with new penalties for saving within their companies or for sharing income and work with family members. Those tax increases are in addition to the new ones that take effect on January 1, that is, higher payroll taxes for workers and small businesses and of course the carbon tax itself. Deficits today mean higher taxes tomorrow. That is exactly what the government is delivering, both higher taxes and deficits at the same time.
That is the underlying motivation for the three-step Liberal process for raising taxes. We will see it again and it will not be long. Soon there will be another billing which the Liberals will actually give a name to. They call moms and grandmothers polluters. They call small business people tax cheats. They call people who put their children in sports or who take the bus wealthy. Then they proceed, after having demonized those patriotic Canadians, to raise their taxes.
The last step is always to look at the fine print and how much the will have to pay for this tax increase. Oh, he will pay nothing. How convenient. Of course, we could not possibly allow a multi-millionaire trust fund recipient to have to bear any extra burden at all. Life is already too tough living in a government-funded mansion with government-funded nanny services. He and his friends and those who have influence on him are always protected from the costs that they impose on middle-class Canadians.
I propose a different three-step plan: first, control spending; second, balance the budget; and third, lower taxes for all Canadians. That sounds like a three-step plan we can all get behind.
On that optimistic and exciting note, I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions in the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018, and other measures, since the Bill fails to address the fact that deficits are three times what the Prime Minister promised, that the Department of Finance admits that the budget will not be balanced until 2045, and that the average income tax bill for middle-class families has increased by $800, not including new carbon taxes and payroll tax hikes.
Madam Speaker, I will start today by talking about the process of contempt of Parliament that has been undertaken, and you will be judging very shortly the government on this account. I will continue by talking about some of the Potemkin measures in the budget. I then will conclude by talking about what the NDP would be doing if this were a budget implementation act from the NDP and how different it would be. That comparison is very important for Canadians to know.
First, I will talk about the immense and ridiculous size of this record omnibus legislation, which is 850 pages. One can only call it ridiculous in nature when we talk about the number of clauses and subclauses and the amount of time the government is giving us, with its bulldozer mentality, to consider each and every one of the clauses.
When we talk about omnibus legislation, there are a couple of things that are important to read into the record. One is that the current , when he responded to a Conservative omnibus bill that was less than half as massive as what the Liberals have put forward this week, said at the time, “ It is a complete dog's breakfast, and deliberately so. It is calculated to be so humongous and so convoluted, all in a single lump, that it cannot be intelligently examined and digested by a conscientious Parliament.” That was the Liberals then in referencing something that, as I said, was half as massive as what we are forced to consider this week, the largest and the worst omnibus bill ever presented in Canadian Parliament.
I also want to read into the record, because it is very relevant and pertinent, the 's commitment back in 2015 when Canadians voted. At that time, the Liberals had spent years decrying the Conservative penchant to move forward with omnibus legislation, even though I almost think fondly back to those days of Conservative omnibus legislation that was only one-third or one-quarter the size of what the Liberals have put forward. However, there are many aspects that I do not think any Canadian would fondly recall. At that time, the said:
We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny....
Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.
The Liberals have not brought an end to the undemocratic practice. As members know, we are now dealing with the largest and worst omnibus bill in our history. What are the consequences of that?
As I mentioned earlier, I have been endeavouring all week, on behalf of Canadians, to find one simple fact. How many clauses and subclauses are in this legislation? I have asked department officials. I asked at committee. I have asked the parliamentary secretary. None of them have been able to respond to that simple question on how many clauses and subclauses are in this massive bill.
This is relevant, because the Liberals have committed to only 13 hours of legislative scrutiny at the committee level and only a few hours of debate in the House of Commons. Therefore, if we are talking about, as some people are estimating, 5,000 clauses and subclauses, then members can do the math.
An important part of any parliamentarians work is to scrutinize, debate and review legislation to ensure it will do what it purports to do and that it is not full of errors, as we have seen in the past when botched legislation has been sent back by the courts. It costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars when Parliament gets it wrong. Therefore, I asked repeatedly, but have not received a response.
However, if we take the estimate of 5,000 clauses and subclauses, the Liberals are giving us nine seconds per clause, per subclause. They are giving us nine seconds to review, nine seconds to hear witnesses, nine seconds to speak to each of the myriad of clauses and subclauses the bill. This is absolutely ridiculous, irresponsible and contemptuous of Parliament and the work we have to do as parliamentarians. They should be pulling back on the legislative bulldozer and allowing parliamentarians the opportunity to do the job we are paid to do.
Just this morning at finance committee, I raised questions around just one of these subclauses and was unable to get a response. Major changes are proposed with respect to the charitable sector, basically meaning that a charity is no longer considered as such if there is any indirect support or opposition for a political party.
I asked a very simple question. I asked if it meant that if an environmental foundation that would be in complete disagreement with the Liberal government and the purchase of a massive pipeline mentioned that the Liberal government had purchased this pipeline and the foundation did not agree with that position, that it would be in direct opposition to a political party. I received no answer. It is apparently going to be defined by CRA, and we are hoping to get that information at finance committee in the next few days.
However, that is just one subclause. Our nine seconds have already finished and we have uncovered some complete ambiguity that may have a major impact on the charitable sector. However, there is no answer and so we move on.
Nine seconds for clause or subclause is absolutely contemptuous of this Parliament and of the work of parliamentarians. I would suggest it is contemptuous of Canadians when a massive bill of that nature, which has so many fundamental changes, is brought in and talks about the tax code and the implications of it on the charitable sector. For the Liberals to allocate nine seconds for clause or subclause is beyond belief and certainly flies in the face of everything they committed to in 2015.
In 2015, the Liberals said that they would be better than Stephen Harper. They are much worse when it comes to these massive budget bills, which they used to decry when they were in opposition. There is no reason for it, no reason at all.
What does Bill contain? It contains a number of bills. Looking at the titles, it seems that it may contain useful legislation, like the one on pay equity, for example. We have been calling for pay equity in the House and in committee for years. Unfortunately, the women of this country will have to continue to wait for years for this measure to take effect. The members of the committee wanted to hear their opinions on that, but since the committee has only nine seconds to examine each section of the bill, it will be impossible to hear testimony that gets to the heart of the matter.
This bill contains even more measures, such as the legislation that calls for the budgeting process to take gender equality and diversity into account, the department for women and gender equality act, the international financial assistance act, and the poverty reduction act. None of these bills have anything to do with the allocation of resources to meet objectives.
This bill is meaningless. It does not allocate the resources and investments needed to do anything other than put titles on these bills. There are at least seven bills that should be deliberated and examined separately, but the government refuses to do so. The government wants this bill to pass even if we do not have enough time to carefully study all these issues.
There is another aspect to this, and I will go back in history because this is an important point.
Grigory Potemkin was a member of the Russian court. When the Empress Catherine was travelling from one village to the other, he would erect Potemkin villages, and this has become part of the English language as well as many other languages, including French. Because of the incredible poverty of the Russian peasants and because of the dearth of any sort of services or supports in these rural areas, he would temporarily erect these villages with false fronts. Once the carriage of the Empress Catherine passed by, he would dismantle these false fronts and take them to the next village.
That is indeed what we are seeing with the budget, which contains a number of Potemkin bills. There is talk about things that are important, like reducing poverty and ensuring there is gender equality and international financial support, but there are no resources beyond that. The , a little like Empress Catherine, is going to be talking to Canadians over the next few months about these wonderful bills he has put forward, but there are no resources to go with the bills. There is nothing that gives meaning to the words and titles of the bills included in this massive omnibus legislation.
Canadians are living through the greatest family debt crisis in our nation's history and, in fact, in the industrialized world. Canada placed last among the OECD countries in terms of family debt. There are crushing levels of family debt, because Canadians are forced to pay for their medication and their housing costs are skyrocketing, while their wages under the previous and current government have stagnated. Given the scope of the family debt crisis, my constituents and I have lived through the greatest housing and homelessness crisis we have seen in our country's history. Seniors, students and families are not able to keep a roof over their heads because the price of housing has soared, and the federal government, since the elimination of the national housing program, has done nothing to build housing, to put roofs over people's heads, so that families can settle in, feel comfortable and not have to feel they have to struggle between paying for food, rent, medication, or their heat in one of the coldest winters on the entire planet.
In the midst of that family debt and housing crisis, we have a series of Potemkin bills brought forward by the for the benefit of the , in the same way Grigory Potemkin brought forward the Potemkin villages for Empress Catherine. It is not something that has a meaningful impact on the lives of people.
We are hoping that pay equity will have a real impact. It is something the NDP has struggled and pushed for for years, but it still appears to be far off on the horizon, years away. We will not be able to take the time at committee to see how that portion of the bill could even be improved, because the Liberals are allocating, unbelievably, nine seconds per clause or subclause for examination. That is ridiculous.
Anyone on the streets of our country would say it is unbelievable that a government that came to power saying it would put an end to these practices has actually doubled and tripled down and become so much worse than even Stephen Harper was in terms of contempt of Parliament and putting massive pieces of legislation forward that are not subject to proper examination and scrutiny.
This is a hollow shell. It is a massive bill. It has implications for the charitable sector and a whole range of other areas, but the time allowed is so scant and our questions are not being answered in any forthright way, which means that ultimately the Liberals may succeed in ramming the bill through. Canadians cannot take any comfort in this, because no proper legislative scrutiny has been allowed. Also, the simple question that I have asked repeatedly this week, about how many clauses and subclauses there are in the bill, remains unanswered. We are not talking about a trick question. It was very simple. I have pretty well asked it in response to every bill I have had the jurisdiction to examine. Every time there has been an answer. However, this time, with regard to this 850 page bill, there has not been any sort of answer at all.
What approach would we take? How would Jagmeet Singh and the NDP bring forward a budget implementation bill? To start, we would not be putting an 850-page brick in the House of Commons, and ramming it through in a scant few days.
What New Democrats would do is separate out the bills, even if they are Potemkin bills, for proper scrutiny. Pay equity deserves scrutiny and witness testimony from women's groups and unions that have been strong advocates of it for years. They deserve a hearing, but they will rarely be given one because of the Liberals' intent to ram this through.
We would separate out those bills and subject them to scrutiny. We would meet late at night. As members know, we are considered the worker bees of Parliament. We try to do our homework. We do our best to take on that mandate of examining, scrutinizing and offering better solutions for government legislation. That has always been our place in the House. We are hoping that soon Canadians will chose another role for us, as the Government of Canada. In the meantime, as the second opposition party, we will continue to play that important role.
If it were our budget implementation bill, it would be separated out. We would be talking about different pieces of legislation. We would be allowing that appropriate scrutiny.
More importantly, if it were our budget implementation bill, each one of these initiatives would come with real resources. New Democrats would have tackled fair taxes so that we can feel, with some confidence, that every Canadian is paying their fair share. We heard repeatedly in the pre-budget hearings about businesses that are seeing unfair competition from big, foreign web giants who come here, scoop up the advertising dollars and do not pay a cent into the Canadian economy. No action has been taken on that. No action has been taken on the overseas tax havens that cost us tens of billions of dollars.
This will be embarrassing to the Liberals, because in just a few months' time, the Parliamentary Budget Officer will come out with his analysis. He has finally obtained, after a five-year struggle, first with the Conservatives and then with the Liberals, one in which he threatened to take them to court, the information he needed from the Canada Revenue Agency to measure the tax gap. Within a few months time' we will have the tax gap, the money going to overseas tax havens and to web giants. It will be embarrassing to Liberals not to have taken any sort of action. They have no credibility on this.
New Democrats would be investing in housing now. I did a press conference earlier this year, as members know, with Jagmeet Singh, our national NDP leader, where we said that we needed to accelerate immediately and invest $2 billion into housing. It is at a critical level. We are seeing seniors and students left on the sidelines. We need to make sure that that housing is put into place immediately.
We would be investing in child care and pharmacare. These are not just smart investments for the quality of life of Canadians. If we are talking about gender equality, not having child care puts the lie to any pretence of the government to actually being a feminist government. If it is not putting in place child care, the government cannot pretend to actually be working for gender equality in this country. Child care also helps our businesses to compete. It helps our labour market.
There is a whole realm of reasons why it is smart economically, as well as socially, to put in place things like child care and pharmacare. As we know, we are wasting billions of dollars more right now on medication that Canadians need. So many Canadians are not even able to access the medication, because we do not have in place a universal pharmacare program. A New Democrat BIA, if it were presented today, would include and put that in place so that Canadians could feel comfortable knowing that they could take their medication and afford it.
New Democrats would be investing in health care and education. We are the health care party, and we always have been. Tommy Douglas, our first leader, founded universal public health care in this country. We would be standing behind that, providing the necessary funding for it, instead of eroding it as we have seen happen under the Conservatives and Liberals.
New Democrats would be making sure that we are taking care of Canadians, because that is best for Canadians. It is also best for our economy, and it is best for Canada.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in this House to speak to the 2018 budget.
Three years ago, I was privileged to be elected by the people of Scarborough North as Canadians from coast to coast to coast put their faith in our government. They sent us to Ottawa so we could fulfill our promise of delivering real change.
I know that every member in this House is here because he or she believes in improving the lives of all Canadians. With unemployment now at its lowest level in 40 years, and strong economic growth across this country, our government's plan is working, and our efforts are bearing fruit. As we expressed during the campaign and in the years since taking office, we believe in building a strong middle class and creating economic prosperity for all Canadians. Budget 2018, entitled “Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, would do exactly that.
In my multicultural riding of Scarborough North, hard-working individuals and families are benefiting from the programs and initiatives our government has introduced. Let me share the story of the Zhang family.
A proud mom and dad who recently immigrated to Canada to build a better life and a brighter future for their children came to visit me in my constituency office, along with their newborn baby girl. The Zhang family can rest assured that their daughter will be supported by the Canada child benefit, money that can be used to help pay for such baby essentials as diapers and clothing. Indeed, since our government introduced the Canada child benefit, over 300,000 children across this great country have been lifted out of poverty.
The 2018 budget would ensure that families such as the Zhangs would continue to receive adequate assistance through the Canada child benefit in the long term by indexing it so that it would keep pace with the cost of raising a child.
That is not all. Under the previous government, we saw the continued disappearance of the middle class. Hard-working Canadians saw their wages stall, their hopes and dreams shattered as they struggled to pay rent and put food on the table. That is why our government has introduced, in this budget, the new Canada workers benefit, which would put more money back into the pockets of low-wage earners. This new benefit would encourage Canadians to join the workforce. It would provide real help to over two million lower-income workers and raise over 70,000 people out of poverty. By next year, the Canada child benefit and the new Canada workers benefit, along with our government's national housing strategy and enhanced benefits for seniors, would lift 650,000 Canadians out of poverty. That is real change that will make a difference in the lives of people, not only in Scarborough North but all across this great nation.
What is even more transformative, however, is our government's commitment to gender equality and pay equity. We all know that equal pay for work of equal value is not just the smart thing to do but is the right thing to do. After consulting with key stakeholders, such as employers, organized labour, researchers and other experts, our government is putting forth legislation to establish federal proactive pay equity. When women and girls are given a fair chance to succeed, we all reap the benefits. In fact, gender equality in the workplace could add $150 billion to the Canadian economy over the next 10 years. Our government is doing the smart thing and the right thing when it comes to equal pay for equal work.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Achieving gender equality also requires us to work together for environmental sustainability. All around the world, women and children are disproportionately impacted by the effects of environmental degradation. Here in Canada, Canadians continue to pay for the costs associated with increasing storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme heat. It is clear that there is already a significant cost to pollution. That is precisely why our government is working to protect the environment, while growing the economy at the same time. By phasing out coal, protecting our oceans, and investing in renewables and public transit, our government is investing in Canadians and their future.
Not only have we created 500,000 new full-time jobs over the past three years, our carbon emissions are down, showing that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. By listening to scientists and engaging with experts, our government would now be putting a price on pollution and growing a cleaner, greener economy at the same time.
Lower carbon emissions, air that is cleaner, emerging business opportunities and more money back in the pockets of Canadians: that is our plan to build a more sustainable and prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren. Speaking of that, investing in future generations remains a key goal of this budget.
I have worked with youth and in public education for most of my professional life, and I can attest to the importance of providing young people with opportunities to succeed, because when youth succeed, our nation succeeds.
Each year, over $330 million is invested in Canada's youth employment strategy, which enables young Canadians to gain important knowledge and hands-on job experience. Through the 2018 budget, our government would invest an additional $448.5 million over five years to enhance the youth employment strategy. This investment would fuel the success of our youth, allowing them to gain the skills and work experience needed to secure good, permanent employment through such initiatives as the Canada summer jobs program.
Last August, I met with some of the 260 youth employed at 51 organizations that are doing good work across my riding of Scarborough North. These summer jobs were possible thanks to $848,000 of federal funding through the Canada summer jobs program
Budget 2018 would go even further, proposing $46 million over five years, with an additional $10 million per year thereafter, for a new program to develop and enhance pre-apprentice training. This program would work in partnership with the provinces and territories, post-secondary institutions, training providers, unions and employers to help Canadians get trained, particularly under-represented groups such as women, indigenous peoples, those with disabilities and new immigrants. They will be able to explore different trades, gain invaluable work experience and develop the skills needed to succeed.
This budget is one all Canadians can be proud of. It would ensure that Canada's economy keeps growing while simultaneously providing more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
It strives to improve our youths' present and their future and would take important strides in protecting our environment while simultaneously growing our economy. It would make smart investments and promote equality so that all Canadians can prosper.
All Canadians can feel confident in this budget and the real change our government is delivering, as I am.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak on the budget implementation act. The measures being implemented will continue the transformational work of our government to grow the middle class and grow our economy. Perhaps most importantly, we are doing this by ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens are not left behind and by building an equal, competitive, sustainable and fair Canada.
Since we took office, Canada's economy has been fuelled by the hard work of a stronger middle class. Combined with our government's historic investments in people and communities, Canada now has the fastest growing economy in the G7 and has added more than 500,000 good, well-paying jobs since November 2015.
I am extremely proud that the budget implementation act would put in place measures that will move us toward gender equality and fairness for all Canadians.
I am reading a book right now entitled Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists, The Origins of the Women's Shelter Movement in Canada. In it, author Margo Goodhand writes about the role that Chatelaine had in bringing conversations about child care, domestic violence, abortion, equal pay for work of equal value and so much more to the forefront. Under the leadership of its editor, Doris Anderson, Chatelaine pushed Canada to the forefront of feminism in North America. Here we are, almost 50 years later, and, sadly, we are still having these same conversations. However, change is finally coming. I am proud to say that our government is the first to introduce federal pay equity legislation.
In 2017, women made 88.5 cents to every one dollar a man earned. During our study on the economic security of women at the status of women committee, we heard the call for pay equity legislation. The budget implementation act would legislate pay equity here on Parliament Hill, in the federal government and in all federally regulated organizations, like banks, and telecommunications and transport companies. In all, about 1.2 million Canadians would be covered by this legislation. We would also appoint a pay equity commissioner to play both an education and enforcement role.
As we move forward federally, I was saddened to receive an email from both of my local chambers of commerce listing the changes being made provincially to their labour relations legislation through the repeal of Bill 148. I will not debate the merits of provincial legislation in this place, but number three on the list provided by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce was the repeal of equal pay for equal work. In 2018, I am disturbed that anyone or any organization would applaud this move.
Gender-based violence continues to plague our society. In working with community groups, like Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services of Halton and Halton Women's Place, I know we must do more. This has certainly been a focus of my work here in Parliament, and the budget implementation act will implement five days of paid leave for victims of family violence. This is a crucial measure for those fleeing intimate-partner violence.
There are a number of other measures in this bill that are also groundbreaking.
Our first study at the status of women committee was on gender-based analysis plus. It is extremely gratifying to see a gender budgeting act included in this bill, which will formalize using a gender lens for all budgets going forward.
Equally groundbreaking is the creation of the department of women and gender equality, which would strengthen our capacity to advance gender equality and grow the middle class through policy, programming and support for equality-seeking organizations and community partners.
By focusing on fairness for all Canadians, I am proud to say that since we took office, more women are now employed and contributing to our shared economic success than at any point in Canada's history. Supporting women's economic participation is not only the right thing to do, but could add $150 billion to Canada's economy by 2026.
During our study on economic security of women, we also heard about the importance of both parents sharing parental leave to support gender equality in the home and in the workplace. The budget implementation act would implement the new employment insurance parental sharing benefit. The changes would give greater flexibility to parents by providing an addition five weeks of use-it-or-lose-it parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. This use-it-or-lose-it model is already offered to parents in Quebec. There, four out of every five fathers have decided to take advantage of the increased parental leave. In the rest of Canada, this number is only one in 10.
For the first time ever, our government is setting out poverty reduction targets in the poverty reduction act included in this legislation. We will not leave the most vulnerable behind as our economy grows. Measures like the Canada child benefit, or CCB, mean that nine out of 10 Canadian families have more money to help them with the high cost of raising children. Even more importantly, the CCB has helped to lift more than half a million people, including 300,000 children, out of poverty. The CCB, which is targeted to middle-class families and those working hard to join the middle class, is simpler, tax free and more generous than previous child benefit programs.
In fact, residents in Oakville North—Burlington have received payments helping 25,670 children with an average yearly payment of $4,930. The CCB has put over $70 million into the north Oakville and north Burlington economies in the past year and over $245 million into the Halton economy. Not only is that money helping families, it is also growing the economy and creating jobs in the community.
Another critical step we have taken to reduce poverty was the national housing strategy, a 10-year, $40-billion national housing strategy aimed at reducing homelessness and improving the availability and quality of housing in Canada. Over the next 10 years, the strategy, which will be funded jointly by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, will help reduce homelessness and the number of families living with housing needs and strengthen the middle class.
People think that my community is affluent, but make no mistake. Many in my community are doing very well, but there are also those living in poverty. According to the 2016 census, in Halton there were more than 13,500 children living in low-income households. More than one in 10 children lived in poverty, with Oakville having the highest percentage at 12.4%. Burlington's average rent in 2016 was $1,329, outdoing its major metropolitan neighbour, Toronto, where average rent was $1,242 for the same year.
I am proud to work with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga in my riding, whose goal is for everyone to have a safe and decent place to live. Its CEO, John Gerrard, has stated that it is encouraging to see Habitat's message reflected in the federal government's housing strategy. With a focus on poverty reduction, and programs like the Canada child benefit and the national housing strategy, it is my hope that we will see those numbers drop in my community and across Canada. The budget implementation act would also put in place the Canada pension plan child-rearing drop-in provisions, an important missing piece in the CPP.
With the budget implementation act, we are continuing to implement our plan and Canadians are seeing first-hand that our plan is working. More Canadians are working, unemployment is at its lowest level in 40 years, wages are growing at the fastest rate in close to a decade, businesses are investing because they are confident in our plan for creating long-term growth and Canada's economy is one of the best performing in the G7, with the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio. A typical middle-class family of four will be $2,000 better off, thanks to the Canada child benefit and middle-class tax cut.
A strong and growing middle class is driving economic growth across the country, creating new jobs and more opportunities for everyone to succeed. It is my hope that all members of the House will support this important piece of legislation.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for , a colleague who, like me, was elected in 2000.
I am very pleased to speak to Bill , the Liberal government's budget implementation act, 2018.
When we stand in the House to speak to bills such as this one, we do a synopsis of the bill and ask how it is going to help future generations and how it is going to help right now. Regrettably, the more we look at it, the more we realize there is nothing in this bill that can secure the future of our country for generations to come.
What we have here is a simple continuation of the Liberals' failed policies, especially their failed fiscal policies. There has been deficit after deficit with no end in sight, despite the 's promise in the 2015 election that he would only run small deficits. I sincerely hope that in 2019 Canadians will not forget how promise after promise has been broken by the government.
The Liberals promised a very small deficit of $10 billion a year, but what we have now, as revealed by the public accounts for 2018, is a deficit of $19 billion, which as the Auditor General points out is essentially the same amount in percentage as the previous year. Our country's net debt is $759 billion. The net debt is the amount by which the government's liabilities exceed the value of its financial assets and revenue.
The Auditor General also reported that revenues were $313.6 billion, an increase of $20.1 billion over the previous year. What is truly shocking is that the government did not use the increase of revenues to eliminate the deficit, but rather, in true Liberal fashion, continued to increase its program spending.
Why has such grave concern been expressed about the many families across the country who are unable to balance their household budgets and are accumulating debt at an alarming rate, while the Liberal government is unfazed by the national debt that it is mounting?
When we were in government, household debt was one of the biggest concerns to a growing economy. Household debt in Canada increased to 171.3% of gross income in 2018, up from 170.20% in 2017. Household debt continues to increase in our country.
Household debt to income averaged 127.31% from 1990 to 2018, reaching an all-time high of 173.34%. There have to be warnings as to what could happen in the future with household debt increasing in this way, especially as we see our Governor of the Bank of Canada raising interest rates.
We should be very concerned about these statistics, and equally concerned about the national debt, but we also need to be concerned that the government does nothing to address that. The Liberal government must stop borrowing money that other people will have to pay back, including Canadians who are not even born yet.
However, we have a Liberal government that has no plan to get out of debt and no plan to stop overspending. It has no plan to balance the books. It has no plan to start paying down the accumulated national debt. All the Liberal government can manage to do is pay interest on the massive amounts of money it has borrowed.
While it is failing in this regard, and in so many other ways too, this government continues to raise taxes on the middle class. Since 2015, the Liberals have cancelled tax credits and raised CPP and EI premiums. The price of everything continues to rise: transportation, fuel, groceries and rent, and very soon Canadians will be suffering under a carbon tax on everything. That carbon tax will not be used to reduce carbon emissions. Rather, it will be spent by Liberals on their millionaire friends and their pet projects.
The Liberals' so-called new tax bracket to tax the top one per cent of income earners has not worked. After the Liberals hike taxes on the wealthy, we find out the wealthy top one per cent of income earners are actually paying a billion dollars less in taxes per year than they did before the Liberals tried to increase their tax level.
The middle class did not receive any of the revenues from the top one per cent of income earners because there was not enough revenue raised by hiking taxes on the wealthy to pay for the programs and services the implemented. Those programs and services did not lead to real and sustainable job creation within the private sector.
The Liberals bragged about the income and the employment rate, but 11 out of 12 jobs that have been created under the current government are in the public sector; they are government jobs. Let us think on this for a moment. The economy has not given the confidence to the private sector to see massive growth. One new job in 12 is in the private sector, and 11 in 12 are in the public sector.
This is not sustainable. Revenues from the private sector pay for jobs in the public sector. Revenues from public sector jobs do not create more jobs in the private sector, or even in the public sector. Still, the Liberals say there has been a reduction in the unemployment rates this year, and they continue to hire public servants.
The Liberals do not talk about the fact that fewer people are looking for work. Statistics show that two-thirds of the unemployed in Canada are not looking for work anymore but remain unemployed.
On the issue of the public sector, or rather the public service, I would be remiss if I did not talk about the recent observations by the Auditor General of Canada in the 2018 public accounts. The Auditor General, along with the deputy minister for the Department of Finance and officials from the Treasury Board Secretariat, appeared before the public accounts committee, which is a committee I am honoured to chair. As most here today would know, the public accounts committee examines in a non-partisan manner the performance of the public service and the federal departments and agencies in implementing what the government has been ordered to do by the Parliament of Canada.
For the past three years, the Auditor General has been tabling separate documents entitled, for example, “Commentary on the 2017-2018 Financial Audits”. This year, the document includes a section entitled, “The Auditor General's observations on the government's 2017-2018 financial statements”, which was previously provided in the public accounts.
The first observation is on the transformation of pay administration, better known as the Phoenix pay system. The Auditor General noted that as of March 31, 2018, there were 615 million dollars' worth of pay errors. I think back to my meetings in Wainwright, Drumheller, Stettler and Camrose, where massive numbers of federal public employees were expressing their frustrations toward this Phoenix system.
Furthermore, for the last pay period, the percentage of employees with pay errors was 58%, an increase of 7% from the previous pay period. Despite the minister saying that things are getting better and that by October 2018 things will be solved or we will have a real goal that can be accomplished, she is failing. It was 51% last year and 58% this year.
While the government says it is working to solve this horrific problem for public servants, the situation has become worse. As the Auditor General reports, the government underpaid some employees by $369 million and overpaid others by $246 million, and now we are trying to figure out how to claw back that money. This significant number of individual pay errors did not result in a financially significant error in the government's total reported pay expenses, because overpayments and underpayments basically offset each other.
The Auditor General further explained to our committee yesterday that while the government recorded year-end accounting adjustments to improve the accuracy of its pay expenses, it did not correct the underlying problems, nor did it correct the pay errors that continue to affect thousands of employees.
Through budget 2018, the government plans to spend $16 million over two years, beginning in 2018-19, to work with various experts and public servants toward implementing a new pay system. Furthermore, it has committed $431 million over six years beginning in 2017-18 to fix Phoenix.
I have grave concerns, as do some people within the public service, that we do not have the necessary IT expertise to manage complex IT problems like these. These are not being addressed in this budget. People are not being paid. It is unacceptable.
Madam Speaker, as the federal member of Parliament for the Ottawa Valley riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I welcome this opportunity to inform Canadians about the deteriorating state of the nation's finances, as demonstrated by the legislation before Parliament today.
I begin my comments by reiterating clearly that Conservatives believe in clean air, low taxes and a healthy economy. A clean environment and well-paying jobs are only possible when taxpayers are treated with respect. Bill is 850 pages of failure to treat taxpayers with respect. It is time to stop the policy of the Liberal government to spend this country into bankruptcy.
While claiming to affect climate change in Africa with billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars may assuage the 's vanity and his project to buy a seat on the UN Security Council, his new carbon tax or pollution tax or whatever new name he dreams up for his massive tax scheme this week, next week or next month does not change the fact that a tax is a tax is a tax. Excessive deficit budgets year after year with no credible plan to balance spending with revenue are behind the carbon tax policy.
The Gerald Butts talking points failed with Dalton McGuinty and the thoroughly disgraced Kathleen Wynne, and at the end of the day, will fail the . Kevin Libin, in the Financial Post, accurately summed up the carbon tax grab as a “wealth redistribution scheme”. He wrote:
It certainly will take money from consumers, businesses and high-income families and reallocate it to others using tax rebates (minus, of course, the cost of administration, which is never zero). But it’s so much more irrational than that. More accurately, it’s a plan to raise business costs and give imports an advantage at the very moment that our economy is already burdened by a tax regime judged far less attractive than those of our economic competitors, using levies that economists agree are too low to seriously affect emissions but are enough to harm the economy.
Using the concern Canadians have for the environment as cover for the Liberals' wacky left-wing wealth redistribution scheme failed Ontario. Phony concern for the environment will be exposed this time also. Canadians are smart. They know a tax grab when they see one. Contrary to claims being made about the new carbon tax being revenue neutral, Canadians are not fooled by that nose stretcher.
The federal carbon-taxing system sets out two mechanisms for taxing carbon: one, a charge on fossil fuels for fuel producers, distributors and importers, and two, an output-based pricing system for industrial facilities. Fuel charges specific to each type of fuel, including gasoline, aviation fuel, natural gas, coal and combustible waste, among others, are meant to reflect a carbon pollution price of $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019, rising by $10 per tonne every year to reach a total of $50 per tonne in 2022. For example, a carbon price of 4.42¢ per litre would apply to gasoline as of April 2019, and would rise to 11.05¢ per litre by April 2022. Taxes on fuel for home heating and for transportation are examples of direct taxes.
While the government has indicated that 80% or 90% of the direct carbon taxes collected may trickle back to the households as a re-election bribe with the other 10% or 20% handed out as exemptions to others hard hit by the new carbon tax, what is not accounted for are the indirect carbon taxes. The HST that would be added to the carbon tax is an example of an indirect tax. These indirect carbon taxes, which represent about 70% of the new carbon tax revenue that would be collected, would increase the cost of other consumables by about $522 per household. Therefore, while the election bribe may return an amount of what has been paid by families directly, Canadians would get nailed by the hidden taxes, which are more difficult to calculate.
For taxpayers in Ontario, they have seen this story before with electricity prices. First, Ontario ratepayers were told that huge increases in the price of electricity were necessary to pay the owners of industrial wind turbines, who just happen to have close political ties to the Liberal Party. These taxpayers were told it was necessary to stop man-made global warming, or I mean climate change, or is it pollution, or whatever other label the Liberal Party thinks will fool people. Then the carbon tax that was added onto Ontario ratepayers' electricity bills was given a misleading title of “global adjustment” to fool some gullible consumers that somehow this amount was not just another tax. With this, the Liberal Party proceeded to increase the carbon tax on electricity, ending up in a new term being coined in Ontario of “energy poverty”.
Ontario is now burdened by some of the highest power rates of any jurisdiction in North America, throwing households into energy poverty and forcing industries to close shop or move to the United States. Ontario taxpayers have been suffering with carbon taxes for years.
This week, in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Sandvik Materials Technology in Arnprior announced it will be closing its doors and moving production south to the United States by the end of 2019. Sandvik, which makes steel pipes and tubes, currently employs 160 people at the Arnprior facility. It opened in 1975 and now, after 43 years in business in Canada, those jobs will be lost, thanks to Liberal policies. With high electricity prices, the tariff on steel, which the government has failed to resolve even after selling out Canadians with the failed NAFTA negotiations, rising interest rates, and the massive hike in taxes that is coming with the new carbon tax, the line-up at the border is only going to get longer.
Bill should have been a plan to control government spending. The fiscal policy of the government, which has been essentially to keep spending levels and deficits elevated until at least after next year's federal election and beyond, is not sustainable. The Liberal Party has been taking on debt for little gain.
Thanks to the spillover effect of a booming American economy, our economy is running at capacity, but rather than directing the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates to slow our economy, a faster drawdown on deficits would ease pressure for rate hikes. This would help the country's most indebted households, who are disproportionately young urban families with huge mortgages in places like Toronto. An Environics Analytics study has already calculated that rising interest rates will squeeze out of households an extra $2,516 each year. Add higher mortgage payments to the new Liberal carbon tax that is set to escalate every year and all the other tax increases and the future looks bleak for average middle-class Canadian families.
According to Craig Wright, the chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada, “At this point of the cycle you want to see surpluses and paying down debt.” The recent billions in extra revenue the government collected from Canadians should have been used to pay down debt, not given to other countries as a bribe for a UN Security Council seat.
Canada's deficits are out of control. Canada spent the financial reserve it needed to fight the inevitable next recession.
The Liberals cannot even get the basics right when it comes to the day-to-day operation of government. At 850 pages, Bill is sparse when it comes to detailing how the federal government intends to correct the poor service Canadians are getting.
This legislation talks about “ensuring that social assistance payments under certain programs do not preclude individuals from receiving the Canada child benefit”. This issue should be addressed separately, not buried in 850 pages of an omnibus budget bill. The government broke its promise to never present omnibus legislation to Parliament, just like it broke its promise for modest deficits. Today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes.
Christopher is an average single parent in my riding. He works at a grocery store. Unlike the one-percenter , the member for , he does not vacation at a villa he owns in the south of France. Christopher submitted an application to receive the Canada child benefit for his teenage daughter on October 15. On October 30, he was informed that his application was sent for processing and that it would be at least mid-January 2019 or later before it would be looked at. This is something new.
Under the Conservative government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, this process took 21 days. Now it takes three to four months, if one is lucky, with the same workforce. The Liberal government has added a new level of stupidity that is slowing everything down.
Heaven forbid if Christopher had not contacted his member of Parliament to help with the application rather than trying to apply for the benefit on his own. First sit on the phone for hours, leave a message and maybe get contacted a week later. Staff on the phone lines are the newest employees who do not know the programs—
Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill , which implements into legislation a number of provisions that were laid out in budget 2018.
Today, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague and friend from Saint Boniface—Saint Vital.
When I speak to this bill, I would like to focus my thoughts on the hard-working middle-class families in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, who, like Canadians from coast to coast to coast, know that our government is working for them to build a stronger economy and a healthier environment, not only for today but also for generations to come to ensure that our children, much like my children, will have a prosperous future and confidence knowing that our government made the right decisions for their future.
I also wish to salute the entrepreneurs in the city of Vaughan, who run over 12,000 small and medium enterprises. They know they have a strong advocate in me as their MP and in our government to ensure they have the tools to compete and succeed both domestically and globally.
Our government is committed to building a strong middle class and helping those working hard to join it. We know the results to date and are very proud of our record: a record low unemployment rate; over 500,000 or 600,000 new jobs created in the last three years, the majority of which are full time; and, amazingly, over 500,000 job vacancies in Canada. A majority of the jobs that have been created in this great country have been from the private sector, another thing we should be proud of.
There are many elements in Bill that I could speak to, everything from the pay equity act to the Canadian gender budgeting act to the wage earner protection program to the enactment of a department for women and gender equality act, which, as a father of two young daughters, I am very proud of. It would establish a department for women and gender equality to assist the minister in ensuring that we as a society and a government advance equality with respect to sex and sexual orientation. There are even amendments to the Bank Act to strengthen provisions that apply to a bank in relation to the protection of customers and the public. Canadians expect and deserve the strongest consumer protection standards when dealing with their financial institutions and we will deliver on that.
However, I wish to focus my time this afternoon primarily on one aspect of Bill , which for me represents our government's commitment to building a more prosperous country and that would ensure that all Canadians benefit from economic growth and a more inclusive and fair society.
Division 21 of part 4 of Bill enacts the poverty reduction act, which sets out for the first time in our country's history targets for poverty reduction in Canada from coast to coast to coast. The poverty reduction targets our government has put forward are ambitious and realistic, and are lifting and will lift hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of poverty from coast to coast to coast. Our government aspires to achieve a poverty reduction target of 20% below the poverty level in 2015 by 2020, and 50% below by 2030. These targets are not just numbers, because behind them are the stories of hard-working Canadians from all walks of life and all parts of this great country. Canadians are ambitious and steadfast. They expect nothing less from their government. When we look at the measures behind the poverty reduction act we can not only be proud of the work we have done as a government but, more importantly, also of the work we have done as a country.
The pillars of our poverty reduction strategy are based on the following: dignity to lift Canadians out of poverty by ensuring that basic needs are met; opportunity and inclusion to help Canadians join the middle class by promoting full participation in society and equality of opportunity; and resilience and security to support the middle class by protecting Canadians from falling into poverty.
How do we achieve these targets? Let me list the measures that our government has put in place: the transformational Canada child benefit; a 10% increase in the guaranteed income supplement; the Canada workers benefit; and the profound national housing strategy, a $40 billion plan over 10 years, that will see housing needs reduced or eliminated for over half a million Canadians across this country. In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, we will see more than 150 units of affordable housing built in 2019.
Moreover, investments in public transit under the PTIF 1 and now PTIF 2 will deliver sustained secure funding for public transit across Canada.
There is also the Canada workers benefit, which in budget 2018 provided a tax benefit that will put more money in the pockets of low-income Canadians. In fact, it is estimated that over 70,000 Canadians will be raised out of poverty, and over two million Canadians will receive assistance, from the CWB. Someone making $15,000 a year will receive $500 more from the CWB in 2019 than in 2018.
In Bill , our government will enact changes that will ensure that an individual who is eligible to receive the Canada workers benefit can receive the benefit without having to claim it. Enrolment will be automatic. No Canadian will be left behind by our government, and the automatic enrolment mechanism that we have included in Bill is one further step to ensure this.
In achieving our poverty reduction targets, we also need to consider the transformational social program that we introduced, the Canada child benefit. We are delivering it to families who need it, not millionaires but hard-working, middle-class families across this country. In my riding alone, it equates to about $5 million a month, helping over 17,000 children and 9,000 families, with an average payment of over $500. That is real change that is working for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. That is real change that is benefiting middle-class families from coast to coast to coast.
We also indexed the CCB two years ahead of schedule, which will mean hundreds of extra dollars for families to help them pay for their kids' sports activities, to save for their education or buy clothes for the upcoming winter. It is estimated that the CCB will lift nearly 300,000 children out of poverty.
For our most vulnerable seniors, our government has raised the guaranteed income supplement by 10%. Promise made; promise kept. In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, over 2,000 seniors received, on average, over $800 extra per annum. That is real change, helping real Canadians, our most vulnerable seniors. Furthermore, we came to an agreement on the CPP, the Canada pension plan. We enhanced and strengthened it for future generations.
There are other measures that we have instituted, but I would like to talk briefly in my remaining time about two measures in Bill . One deals with the Canada Labour Code. For many of us who follow labour relations, there was an element in labour relations dealing with contract flipping or contract re-tendering. It was one of these things that was really unfair to the middle class, unfair to hard-working workers. We have addressed that.
It is contained in division 15 of part 4 of this bill. Our government will address continuity of employment issues when a work, undertaking or business becomes federally regulated, or in case of contract re-tendering. This is important, as there are instances where employees obtain a new employer through a contract tendering process, and then face much lower wages for exactly the same job.
Anyone who follows what happened at the airport in Toronto knows that this happens to many workers there, where they will be employed by an employer, making $20 an hour, and a contract re-tendering will come up and they will have to go to a new employer who imposes a much lower wage rate. It is unfair. We have addressed it. The legislation is in line with that in other jurisdictions, including the U.K. and Australia.
I will not read the pertinent section of the bill, but I encourage my colleagues from all parties to do so. It is groundbreaking, and it will ensure that we help all middle-class Canadians, all hard-working Canadians, including those workers who face a contract re-tendering.
In Bill and prior budgets, we have also addressed the issue of tax fairness and tax avoidance. Our government has invested approximately $1 billion in the Canada Revenue Agency. This morning there was an article in one of our national newspapers applauding our government for taking the concrete measures that are in Bill , when looking at the issues of tax fairness and tax avoidance. We have a prosperous economy, Canadians are working at record levels, and we have the highest labour force participation rate for women in our country's history, but we must ensure that all individuals and organizations pay their fair share, including large corporations and wealthier Canadians.
We are preventing banks from creating artificial losses. We are enhancing tax reporting requirements for trust funds. We are strengthening rules for limited partnerships. We are cracking down on tax-free corporate distributions. We are also increasing ownership transparency.
It has been a pleasure to speak on Bill . There are a number of great measures in this budget implementation act. I did not even touch on the pay equity bill, which will be transformational for millions of folks in this country. It will reduce the gap between what men and women are paid, which we must do. It is the right thing to do. It is the fair thing to do. It is the thing to do for my two daughters, who are at school today, for their futures. I am proud of our government that has acted on so many fronts.