Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to a topic I am very familiar with. For the second time in this Parliament, a bill to reduce poverty has been introduced in the House.
I congratulate and thank my colleague, the , for his commitment to those most in need. With this bill, he is following in the footsteps of Ed Broadbent, who got a motion to eliminate child poverty passed in 1989. He is also following the example of Tony Martin, Jean Crowder and so many other political figures who made the fight against poverty the primary reason for their involvement.
If we look at the figures, we can see that such a bill has never been more timely. This month, we marked National Child Day and National Housing Day. We know how important these days are. They were created not as a time to celebrate, but rather to sound the alarm. They raise awareness about the issues and hard realities that some of our fellow Canadians face in those areas. They provide an opportunity for community organizations and associations to speak out against the injustice. Canada is a rich country with a wealth of resources, yet we allow our children and fellow citizens to grow up and live in poverty.
The figures are alarming. One in six Canadians lives in poverty. That is 5.8 million people, including 250,000 who end up homeless every year and 1.7 million households living in substandard or unaffordable housing. Unfortunately, that is not all. Children are even worse off: 1.4 million Canadian children live in poverty. That is 200,000 more children than last year, and more than one in three of these children live in an indigenous community.
Because this situation is urgent, and because the bill is part of the New Democrat legacy, we will be supporting this bill. However, I must say I am shocked, because I myself introduced a poverty reduction bill in February 2016, just over two years ago. That bill was developed after long consultations with organizations from across the country. It had the support of many anti-poverty agencies, and it built on the community work I have been doing for decades to improve the lives of the people of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale in my riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
The purpose of Bill was to strengthen Canada's social and economic safety net. I wanted to add social condition to the Canadian Human Rights Act, so that poverty would no longer be grounds for discrimination. I also included community organizations, the municipalities, the provinces and the territories as privileged partners in this poverty reduction strategy. Make no mistake, if our federal role is to give guidance and show leadership, then we cannot do without the support of these stakeholders, who work on the ground every day to help those who are most in need.
Most of the Liberals and Conservatives voted against Bill C-245. Why? The Liberals said that they were going to do better to significantly reduce poverty in Canada. Did they keep that promise? I do not think so.
Let me be clear. Bill is necessary, but it barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done to eliminate poverty. I would like the Liberal government to tell me what concrete, urgent action it is taking to eliminate poverty in Canada. The announced that this plan would make Canada a leader in poverty reduction. I do not think that is true.
I commend the efforts that have been made so far, such as the Canada child benefit, but to be honest, we still have a long way to go. Bill C-87 sets the minimum targets recommended by the United Nations. There are no new investments and no new programs. What does this bill really do? It establishes minimum targets, a very debatable poverty line, and an advisory council.
As far as the poverty line is concerned, I have to wonder whether Canada really hopes to become a leader in poverty reduction by lowering its standards. That is the issue. Members should know that anti-poverty organizations are afraid that poor people will not longer qualify for subsidy programs, because this metric excludes them from the government statistics. The poverty line used by the Liberals is the market basket measure. Let me reiterate this for the House: this measure is a smokescreen that masks the reality of poverty in Canada.
Economist Andrew Jackson has demonstrated that using the low income measure, 828,000 seniors live in poverty. Using the market basket measure, the number would be 284,000 over the same period. That is a difference of about half a million seniors. Is the government really okay with using the lower figures and leaving half a million unaccounted-for seniors out in the cold?
In addition to turning a blind eye to poverty, this indicator does nothing to lift people out of poverty. It measures the income needed to purchase a basket of basic goods. Since Canadians whose income exceeds that threshold are no longer considered poor, they are no longer counted in the government's statistics. That is not right.
The market basket measure excludes many day-to-day expenses, such as health care costs, day care fees and support payments. Even those who reach that income threshold are still living in poverty. Being able to meet those basic needs does not mean one is no longer poor—far from it. People in that position live in uncertainty, and the slightest unexpected expense can cause tremendous financial stress.
This week my team spoke with representatives of Comptoir-Partage La Mie, a food bank in Saint-Hyacinthe. Every week volunteers there provide support to nearly 200 families in financial difficulty and provide them with food to help make ends meet. People must not assume that assistance is given first come, first served. Each case is examined individually in order to provide the most appropriate assistance and maximize the limited resources each family has. Their poverty level is $100 above the basic income. When you work on the ground every day, you realize that people in need are not there to try to take advantage of the system.
The precariousness is real, and with a margin of only $100, these people are not wealthy. They have just a bit of wiggle room to pay their bills and perhaps some unexpected expenses, like if their car breaks down, for example.
These organizations have limited resources, yet they work miracles in our communities. I commend them. They have limited resources because they receive very little assistance from the federal government. Still, they manage to face reality and realize that being able to afford only the basic necessities does not mean getting out of poverty.
That is why I am so disappointed to find this government, that claimed to be so ambitious, incapable of seeing that poverty is overtaking Canada's children and families. The bill cannot merely be about reducing numbers. We must implement concrete measures.
There must be a review of existing programs. Today many families do not receive the Canada child benefit, especially in remote indigenous communities even though poverty and insecurity are rampant in those communities. Of the 20% of poor children in Canada, one in three lives in an indigenous community.
Poverty is an endless cycle that affects entire families. To break this cycle, we must address the structural inequalities that affect these children from birth.
We must also reform the unfair EI system. For almost 30 years, the government has not contributed a single cent to the employment insurance fund. After 20 years of Conservative and Liberal reforms, this system is in a pitiful state and unable to provide families with the help they need. It is not acceptable that we are living with a system that has not been overhauled since the 1970s and that excludes 60% of our workers.
EI reform would help lift thousands of families out of precarious situations, and even out of poverty. However, we cannot forget that because EI has such a low qualification rate, these workers are being denied access to training adapted to their needs. I am talking about the so-called middle class and those who are working hard to join it.
The less fortunate should not have to fight for access to federal benefits. Since we are not all equal in the face of poverty, we must expand access to EI and make the Canada child benefit available to everyone. We should make sure that grandparents who have guardianship of a child are also eligible. The same goes for our seniors.
I want to commend the initiative to make the guaranteed income supplement automatic for seniors at the age of 65. The NDP had been calling for this for decades.
However, the reality is that many more seniors do not receive this benefit, even though they are entitled to it. I wrote an open letter in January to inform my constituents and I received hundreds of emails and calls. There were a lot of people who were disappointed to learn that it was not automatic.
Why not expand this measure to all workers who worked their whole lives to build this country?
The government must also adopt the low income measure for calculating poverty. The low income measure sets the poverty level at half of the median income, which is more realistic. It also for international comparisons, which should interest the government, since it was to be a leader in the global arena.
The government must set more ambitious short-term goals. On November 5, the day before this bill was introduced, British Columbia adopted a bill to reduce child poverty by 50% in five years. Anti-poverty organizations are calling for a similar measure.
Is the government really going to wait more than a decade to do something, letting a generation of children grow up in poverty?
We need to get these measures in place faster so we can help Canada's future generations now. Let's not fool ourselves. These programs are a step in the right direction, but they address only part of the problem.
We cannot radically reduce poverty in this country unless we attack it on all fronts. We need to be bold and adopt fairer and more ambitious measures for Canadians.
Reducing poverty calls for profound social change. Sending out cheques is not enough any more. When child care costs $80 per day per child, the Canada child benefit is not nearly enough to change peoples lives' and give them a little breathing room at the end of the month. What we need is a universal, affordable, nationwide child care system.
The government made an election promise to launch a full-scale attack on poverty, not just a superficial one. I am now asking the government to keep that promise and put its money where its mouth is. Canadians need a complete overhaul of our public policies and services.
Martin Luther King said that true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. Attacking the root causes of inequality is the one and only way we can hope to put an end to poverty.
Let us attack it, then, beginning with a universal, affordable child care service. Campaign 2000 and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have described such a service as a cornerstone to poverty reduction.
This service is crucial so that parents no longer have to choose between expensive child care and going to work. It is especially important to reducing poverty among women, who are more often affected when it comes to having to choose between child care and going back to work.
Affordable, high-quality child care for everyone would also help give children from disadvantaged backgrounds a more equal start in life.
The same thing goes for uninsured medical expenses and dental costs, which are not included when calculating the poverty level and pose a heavy burden on family budgets.
How can we talk about an equal and just society if we are not all equal when it comes to health care costs?
Bringing in drug and dental plans is more than necessary, it is essential if we truly want to address inequalities in an effort to eliminate the scourge of poverty.
We keep saying that work is the way out of poverty and guarantees dignity. However, work is not accessible to everyone. Let us bring in guaranteed income for people in need. I am talking about people who cannot work because of physical or mental limitations. Believe me, it is not a choice. It is the weight of a disability that they suffer daily. It is our role, that of parliamentarians, but also that of the government, to provide these people with a decent income to live on. Bringing in a basic income guarantee would help maintain dignity and reduce the stigmatization that our constituents go through every day.
Having a fair tax system also goes a long a way to reducing poverty.
To tackle the root causes of inequality, let us overhaul the income tax system to better redistribute wealth to the most vulnerable groups. To reduce poverty, we must look at society as a whole. We must reconsider the causes of inequality. The gap grows every year, and the wealthy keep coming out on top, while the income of the middle class remains hopelessly stagnant.
The government cannot sell us a brand-new poverty reduction strategy with no new programs or funding, as I mentioned, and then turn around and increase tax breaks for the rich. I would like to remind members that we are losing $8 billion a year because of a lack of political courage. Let us put an end to this travesty. Community organizations keep saying that this bill is a good starting point but does not do enough to address the challenge of poverty in Canada.
Campaign 2000, Citizens for Public Justice, Collectif pour un Québec sans pauvreté, FRAPRU, the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Broadbent Institute, and many other organizations are asking this government to set the bar higher. The OECD recommends measures to support employment, offset low incomes and increase affordable full-time child care services for families.
I want to acknowledge the tremendous work that employees and volunteers at community organizations do to help the less fortunate. The Centre de Bénévolat de St-Hyacinthe, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, works hard to support those in need. The volunteers working on the ground are far removed from Ottawa's initiatives, recommendations and directives. What really counts for them is what they can immediately do to help a mother who is drowning in debt after school starts in September or a retiree who needs help filling out his guaranteed income supplement application because he was over 65 on January 1, 2018.
The Centre de Bénévolat de St-Hyacinthe, the Centre de Bénévolat d'Acton Vale, Moisson Maskoutaine and the Comptoir-Partage La Mie have all come to the same conclusion: people are struggling financially, and they need more than just a basket of necessities. Single people are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Incomes are too low.
Claudine Gauvin, director of Moisson Maskoutaine, told me that, of the 870 requests for Christmas food assistance, more than half came from single people. Sick single people are particularly vulnerable, because their health-related expenses are so high. Moisson Maskoutaine, the Centre de Bénévolat de St-Hyacinthe, the Centre de Bénévolat d'Acton Vale and the Comptoir-Partage La Mie provide a great deal of support to our community. They collect toys for children and organize coffee chats and community kitchens, helping isolated and disadvantaged people create strong social ties.
Since the majority of those affected are single people, I no longer want to hear the government say that the Canada child benefit will fix everything.
The work done by these organizations should guide our debate here in Ottawa and the work we will be doing together in committee. Our sole objective should be to make sure that what we do has a meaningful effect on helping Canadians across the country emerge from poverty. Aside from targets and measurement tools, we need to combat poverty by making meaningful, far-reaching changes to our services and public policies.
In conclusion, I would like to share the words of my colleague, Ed Broadbent, who said the following nearly 30 years ago: “Let us affirm today...that as a nation by the beginning of the 21st Century...child poverty...will be a relic of the past.” The knowledge of our failure must guide our actions. We have broken promises and left commitments unfulfilled, and child poverty is far from being a relic of the past. It is even worse. It is now a scourge. Back in 1989, the House of Commons set a goal of eliminating child poverty in Canada by the year 2000, and we have already missed that deadline by 18 years. We are a long way from meeting that goal.
If there is one thing I hope members will retain from my speech today, it is that I want us to be ambitious and honest for our children, who deserve to see an end to the cycle of poverty once and for all. We owe them this now.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
I am pleased to take part in today's debate on Bill . The bill is important and needs the support of all parliamentarians. It is important because it is enacting legislation for Canada's first-ever national poverty reduction strategy. The strategy brings together the many elements of poverty reduction policies and programs that our government has introduced and implemented since taking office.
Since 2015, our government has been focused on growth that benefits everyone. We have taken concrete steps to strengthen the middle class and help those working hard to join it. Today, I would like to use my time to speak more specifically about some of these concrete measures and steps we have taken.
I want to mention one of the first things we did upon coming into office. Of course, I am talking about improving the income security of our Canadian seniors. We all know that Canada's population is aging. Canada has a growing number of seniors. There are approximately 6.4 million people who are 65 years of age and over. In the 2016 census, for the first time our seniors population outnumbered the number of our youth 14 and under. In the next 25 years this number is estimated to reach over 11 million people, which represents one-quarter of the population.
Any way we look at it, Canadians are living longer and healthier lives. This increasing longevity is good news, and it should be celebrated, because it brings with it more wisdom, experience and expertise that is being offered to our communities. We are grateful for the contributions that our seniors make to our homes, our families, our places of worship and our workplaces, and we want to ensure their vibrant participation.
However, as a government, we recognize it is our duty to make sure that seniors have the support they need to thrive and to prosper. I am honoured and humbled to serve in the role of minister of seniors. When I was first appointed, the asked me to do something very important. He asked me to travel across the country and to listen to our seniors, their family members and organizations that work with and for seniors, and I have been doing that. I concede that income security is stated as something that is important to our seniors.
Also, let us look at the factors facing Canada's seniors today. Study after study has shown that women are especially vulnerable to financial difficulties. In fact, almost all single female seniors who live in poverty rely on government benefits as their major source of income. For a number of seniors, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement are not extra sources of disposable income. For many, they are the only sources of income and are used to pay rent and to buy food.
Our government knows the facts. We have taken steps to improve seniors' income security. That is where the old age security program comes in. The old age security program, OAS, has a clear purpose, and that is to provide a minimum level of income to seniors and contribute to their income replacement in retirement. The OAS program is actually composed of a number of benefits. First is the OAS pension, which is paid to everyone who is 65 years of age and older who meets the residence and legal status requirements. Second is the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. Third, are the allowances for low-income Canadians aged 60 to 64 who are the spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients, or who are widows or widowers.
Recognizing income security as an issue for seniors, when we came to office we immediately repealed the previous government's measure to move the eligibility age for OAS and GIS from 65 to 67. This act, in and of itself, prevented 100,000 seniors from entering into poverty. The benefits under the OAS pension are putting thousands of dollars into the pockets of the lowest-income Canadian seniors each year.
Another of our actions was to increase the guaranteed income supplement by up to $947 per year for the most vulnerable single seniors. This improved the financial security of close to 900,000 seniors and is lifting approximately 57,000 seniors out of poverty. It was the right thing to do.
Last year we launched a new automatic enrolment for the guaranteed income supplement benefit for those who are entitled to it. The GIS provides much-needed monthly non-taxable benefits to OAS pension recipients who have a low income. As of last December, when eligible seniors are automatically enrolled for OAS, Employment and Social Development Canada automatically reviews their household income to see if they are eligible for GIS benefits. If they are eligible, they are automatically enrolled without needing to apply. There are now 210,000 seniors receiving this benefit as a result of automatic enrolment.
Each month over 18,000 individuals turning 64 years of age are automatically enrolled in the OAS pension. This means that these clients are also being automatically assessed for their eligibility for GIS without ever having to complete an application.
Our actions to improve seniors' income security does not stop there. We have also enhanced the Canada pension plan for today's workers. This enhancement will increase the CPP retirement benefits people receive when they retire. It will also provide larger benefits for contributors with disabilities, widows and widowers. This also means that contributions are increasing accordingly, typically by 1% for most people. Enhanced benefits will grow over time as people work and contribute to the plan. Today's youngest workers will receive up to 50% more from the CPP when they retire. These changes to the CPP will reduce the number of families at risk of not being able to maintain their quality of life in retirement by a quarter.
In the area of workplace pensions, our government made a commitment in the 2018 budget, restated in my mandate letter, to consult with stakeholders on this very important issue. I am very pleased to announce that last week, together with the , we announced that consultations have now been opened nationally. I would encourage all Canadians who have expertise or who wish to share a story to go online and give their valuable input on this very important matter.
Our government is looking for a solution that works, not a Band-Aid solution. This is a decades old problem. We recognize the seriousness and the complexity of this problem, and we are working to get this right.
Seniors are an important part of our communities, and our government places enormous value on their contributions. We know that when a senior can contribute to society, everyone benefits. Seniors have so much to contribute, and we want to encourage them to continue to make these worthy contributions. It is only fair that they get the recognition and support they need so they can have the secure retirement they deserve and can look forward to the years ahead. Bill would help us do just that by enacting legislation for Canada's first-ever national poverty reduction strategy. It is up to all of us in this House to decide whether they want to contribute to the well-being of Canada's seniors. It is my hope that all parliamentarians will vote in favour of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the people in my constituency of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook for giving me the honour of speaking on Bill , the poverty reduction act. This is an exciting time.
Canada is a great nation and many people want to immigrate to this great country. We continue to focus on and work hard toward a just society, but we want the wealthiest Canadians to pay their fair share and to do a little more to help the middle class, by helping to create opportunities for those in the middle class and those striving to be part of it. We need to make sure there are safety nets in place so that people do not fall below the poverty line. We have a responsibility to help those below the poverty line join the middle class. That is the focus.
It is hard to believe that in Canada one in eight Canadians is below the poverty line. We talk about all the great things that are happening, but we still have more work to do. Throughout my speech, I will indicate the many areas where our government is focusing investment on different initiatives to ensure that we are helping, as I said, those below the poverty line, those striving to join the middle class and middle-class Canadians.
We have set clear targets in this bill. We have committed to reducing poverty by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. To do that, we must have a baseline for poverty to monitor whether people are above or below the baseline. This is the first time we have had a baseline and an automatic review as we move forward so that we can make the adjustments required.
This act would establish a national advisory council that would give advice to the minister and monitor the activities on the ground, where funding is going and whether it is achieving the objectives we have set. We are also going to consult. The advisory council will consult with all Canadians, including academics, communities, indigenous peoples and people living below the poverty line. They are very important.
There is transparency in this bill. Each year, we will have to report to the minister on the progress happening on the ground. As well, the advice of the council to the minister will be made public. That is transparency. We will report the progress made toward our targets and whether the minister is following through on the advice being given to him. Those are clear steps.
When I talk about a just society, as I indicated, we need to make sure that the wealthiest Canadians are paying their share and that we are lifting up those who live below the poverty line. We need to make sure that we are helping those striving to join the middle class. We need to ensure that we create opportunities so that the middle class can continue to prosper and that more people can contribute, including the wealthiest Canadians. It is important to have safety nets to ensure that people in the middle class are not falling below the poverty line.
There are three very important pillars that are part of this bill, and that is what I want to focus my speech on. What have we done, what are we doing and what will we do to ensure that all Canadians live above the poverty line and that all Canadians have opportunities?
Let us look at what we have done when it comes to the first pillar, which is basic needs. Shortly after coming into power, we introduced the CCB, which contributes directly to families with kids to help them. In my riding alone, $5.2 million per month is received by families through the CCB. That is $60 million a year. That is happening across the country. It is very important.
We have invested $40 billion over 10 years in a national housing strategy. In the riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, 155 units have been built in the last year and a half. That is an investment of over $1 million.
On affordable housing, our government is focusing on vulnerable people: seniors, veterans, families fleeing domestic violence, and people with disabilities. Homelessness is very challenging as well. The veterans affairs committee is now discussing homeless veterans and how to ensure that we can identify them and help them. One key avenue is housing.
We have done other things to support our veterans. The Canadian Forces income support, the caregiver recognition benefit and the war veterans allowance are major investments to support our veterans.
The second pillar is education. Education is the equalizer. Therefore, we have invested in early learning. We have invested $11 million over three years in Nova Scotia alone. We have invested in Canada student grants and loans for low-income Canadians to support these individuals.
We have invested in veterans with the education and training benefit. It is $40,000 if they have six years of service and $80,000 if they have 12 years of service.
We have invested $450 million in indigenous skills and employment. There is also a youth employment strategy, a women's apprenticeship incentive, pay equity legislation, and of course, the accessibility legislation debated a couple of weeks ago.
I need to speak about black Canadians. In my riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, Preston is the oldest black community in Canada, and we have the biggest black cultural centre in Canada.
The last pillar is the safety net to ensure that people do not fall below the poverty line. We introduced the new Canada workers benefit, which has seen two million Canadians lifted into the middle class.
We reduced the wait time for employment insurance from two weeks to one week, and we introduced the parental sharing benefit, which is an five additional weeks for parents.
Finally, we have made enhancements to the Canada pension plan, because we know that Canadians today do not have access to benefits and pensions like they did before. This will help them with a strong Canada pension plan.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge my colleague from , who is always very lively when he speaks in the House. However, I find it unfortunate that he has once again demonstrated that the Liberals are spending with abandon. They do not have a plan and they are certainly not getting results.
I am rising today to speak to Bill .
On November 6, 2018, the introduced the poverty reduction bill. According to the summary, the bill “enacts the Poverty Reduction Act, which provides for an official metric and other metrics to measure the level of poverty in Canada, sets out two poverty reduction targets in Canada and establishes the National Advisory Council on Poverty”.
I want to begin by telling the government that poverty exists in Canada. They can implement measures, set up an advisory council and create organizations that will assess and consult, but I can say right now, on November 30, 2018, that poverty still exists here in Canada. Unfortunately, one in six Canadians are living in poverty. I think it is important to consider that and to implement the measures necessary to meet these people's real needs.
The act provides for the creation of a national advisory council on poverty. This council would be considered a full-time committee and its members would be employees of the Government of Canada. The government is adding a layer of bureaucracy and expenses that will serve its machinery before serving the poor. That is the unfortunate part of the bill being introduced today. We are not against helping the poor, on the contrary, but we should be looking after them and not the Liberal machinery of government.
There is no need to bring in legislation to change how the government measures poverty. We all know that there are poor people in Canada. What concrete action will be taken tomorrow to improve the comfort and quality of life of these Canadians who have the right to be respected? This could have been done quickly and concretely with the structures already in place. However, the government prefers to put in place measures, mechanisms and structures.
Creating an official poverty line could help the government because it creates an illusion. We know that this government likes to wave a magic wand and use smoke and mirrors. However, we know that there are no results and that we are light years away from seeing any, just like a balanced budget.
I remind members that during the 2015 election campaign, the government told Canadians that it would run a small deficit and then balance the budget in 2019. We have no idea when the budget will be balanced, so I am compelled to say that the government misled Canadians.
More than 1,000 people representing organizations from across the country attended workshops and breakout groups on more than 40 topics, with the . Once again, the people who work with organizations and with the less fortunate have solutions, and they are saying that this bill does not meet its objective.
Our leader, the and member for , introduced a bill supporting new parents. This bill would have eliminated taxes on maternity and parental benefits. This is one of many meaningful measures. The Conservatives are working to help real people: workers and the less fortunate.
We can work with them to find meaningful solutions, instead of creating organizations and structure, which creates more red tape, since public servants must be hired. Money is being thrown around everywhere, but it is not going to the right places. I can suggest measures. All my colleague from has to do is ask and I would be happy to make some suggestions.
The Liberals are also hurting Canadian families by cancelling measures. They say they want to help the poor, but the got rid of income splitting and tax credits that helped Canadians families, such as the children's fitness tax credit and the post-secondary education credit.
Conservatives are ready to get behind measures that work. The government is proposing measures to “evaluate” and “consult” and “look at options”, but nothing is really happening and poor people are entitled to help from the Canadian government. These are respectable people.
We need to raise overall standards by creating jobs, enabling these people to achieve their goals, respecting them, and giving them incentives to go to work so we can elevate our society as a whole. These people can participate in society, and I am ready to work with them, but the government is not creating a system that can make that happen. On the contrary, it is creating structures. It says it wants to help the least fortunate, but unfortunately, it is spending recklessly. Its approach makes no sense.
I will give an example of the Liberal government's wastefulness. The Liberals spent $500,000 on developing a logo, trademark and name for an agency to help the less fortunate around the world. Wow. The advisory council is simply an aid agency, but the Liberals decided to spent $500,000 on its image and not on helping the poor, the less fortunate, or our constituents. This government is all about image.
In addition, it spent $4.5 billion to buy an old pipeline. Imagine how many people could have been helped with that money. Then, the invested $210,000 on producing a budget cover. Plus, on September 19, the government led by our member for treated itself. It bought 86 bottles of wine, 196 beers, six small bottles of vodka and no less than $143,000 in food. All of that was consumed during a short trip abroad. What about the poor? What do they get?
As for the vacation with the Aga Khan, that cost $127,000. That is the amount we know about, but it is possible that more money was spent. We do not really have an accurate picture of the situation. On top of that, the Prime Minister's tweet that said “Welcome to Canada” is going to cost Canadian taxpayers $1.1 billion because of the illegal immigrants crossing the border. I can give plenty of numbers. In his speech, my colleague talked a lot about numbers and sums of money. I can give those, too, but I can prove that it is wasteful spending.
We agree that solutions need to be found. This coming weekend, many organizations in my riding are hosting holiday food and toy drives. I am proud to say I will be attending drives in Saint-Augustin and Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier on Sunday morning to raise money for the poor. That is what meaningful action looks like. This government is incapable of taking action and keeping its promises. It always gives only in theory, which is unfortunate.
We will be voting in favour of the bill at the next stage, but I hope the government is listening to what I am asking it to do, which is improve the bill so that it directly benefits those most in need.