The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from for being so gracious in allowing me to participate in this debate today.
I am very pleased to speak to Bill , the government's budget implementation act. It allows me the opportunity to examine in some detail why the Liberal government should not be re-elected this October. I say that because the government, if nothing else, has exhibited a litany of broken promises since 2015. Allow me to explain and highlight just a few of them.
As many Canadians may remember, during the election campaign in 2015, one of the many promises the Liberals made was to end what they called the undemocratic practice of introducing omnibus budget bills. What did we see this year? We saw another in a series of omnibus budget bills. In fact, the budget bill tabled this year is over 700 pages in length, making it the most lengthy budget bill ever introduced in parliamentary history. So much for stopping the practice of introducing omnibus budget bills.
I only note this as an example of one of the Liberals' broken promises. There are many more.
I will spend a little time on the second example, which is the most alarming of all the broken promises from the Liberals. This is the promise they made in 2015 to run, only for a three-year period, modest deficits of no more than $10 billion. They also promised that by the year 2019, the fourth year in their four-year mandate, they would return to balanced budgets. It is now 2019 and where are we? Do we have a balanced budget? We certainly do not. In fact, we have the furthest thing from it.
What is truly alarming is that on multiple occasions in committee, the of our country admitted that not only would we not return to balanced budgets in the foreseeable future, but he did not know when we might.
Let us think about that for just a second. I want all Canadians to think about that as well. The , who is arguably the second most influential person in Canada with respect to setting economic and fiscal policy, will not say when the budget will be balanced. More troubling is that he cannot because he does not know. The finance minister of Canada does not know when this country might return to balanced budgets. That is far more alarming to me than any pronouncement that any finance minister has made in recent history.
I could have understood if the would have said that he did not see the country returning to a balanced budget in the next five to 10 years or perhaps even in the next 15 years because of the economic and fiscal direction the government wished to pursue. However, it is more than just troubling for the finance minister to admit that he does not know when the country will return to a balanced budget because he cannot project that far into the future.
All Canadian taxpayers should think about that long and hard, and I hope they do. I hope that come October, they will remember this broken promise. Our country deserves better than a who does not know when his own budget might be balanced. It is almost unconscionable for a man in his position to admit that, yet that is the case before us.
It is not just the fact that the Liberals broke a promise on omnibus bills and their introduction in Parliament. It is not just the fact that they promised only modest deficits, and they have broken that promise. The Liberals have broken promises on things like electoral reform. They have broken promises on elements such as supporting the oil and gas sector in Canada, something on which the Liberals have deliberately, in my view, misled Canadians.
Let me give a couple of examples of what I say and what I mean by not supporting the oil and gas sector. Almost immediately upon forming government in 2015, the Liberal government killed northern gateway, a project that if it were up and running today, would be bringing untold billions of dollars to the Canadian economy and increasing the price of oil that we could have sold on the world market. However, the Liberal government unilaterally killed a project that had previously been approved by the National Energy Board.
In addition to that, the Liberal government, looking at the proposed energy east project, changed the regulatory provisions contained in the legislation and made upstream and downstream emissions something that had to be considered by the NEB, to the point where TransCanada pulled completely out of that project. That project, which could have been a nation-building project, delivering oil from western Canada to the east coast to their refineries to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, because of the Liberal government, was killed.
What is left? It is the infamous Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan project. The Liberal government has no intention, in my view, of following through on its promise to get that built. Right now, again in my opinion, the Liberal Party is simply doing electoral calculus on how many votes it can gain by not committing to completing this project before the next election. If the Liberals feel they can get more votes in British Columbia and Quebec by stopping this project, then that is what they are going to do.
This is nothing more than a political exercise, but the collateral damage is Canadians, particularly in western Canada, in my province of Saskatchewan and my neighbouring province of Alberta. The energy-producing provinces of the country are the collateral damage of the Liberal government's refusal to honour a promise.
Last but certainly not least, I would point out for all Canadians who may be listening to this debate what the Liberals did with the SNC scandal, as it is now known. The budget implementation bill included, buried deep within that bill, a provision that would allow the government, should it so wish, to introduce something called a DPA, a deferred prosecution agreement. The Liberals did that because the government had been lobbied extensively by SNC-Lavalin and they thought that by introducing it in the bill, it would allow the prosecutors office an opportunity to offer a DPA to SNC-Lavalin. That did not happen, and we know what the results were: the biggest scandal in Canadian political history in the last three decades, which resulted in the of Canada resigning, because of the inappropriate pressure put on her by the government, and in the former resigning in protest over the government's handling of that very key element of the budget implementation bill.
I could go on for quite some considerable time, but I have limited time before me. Let me just conclude by going back to my opening remarks when I said that in my opinion the government did not deserve to be re-elected. I can assure the House and anyone else who may be listening to this debate that in slightly less than six months, Canadians will be able to prove my prediction to be quite accurate.
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for this opportunity today to speak to Bill , the budget implementation act.
With budget 2019, our government would continue to invest in the middle class and in communities across Canada, such as Langley City, the Township of Langley and the city of Surrey, all located within the riding I represent, Cloverdale—Langley City.
Whether it is helping Canadians buy their first home or investing in clean energy and public transit, budget 2019 focuses on the current challenges faced by everyday Canadians and would address them in meaningful ways that would give help where people needed it the most. I will be speaking on measures that would address those issues today.
Budget 2019 is our government's fourth budget and would build on the work and progress our government has in made these past four years.
Today Canada's economy is one of the fastest growing in the G7. Since 2015, Canadians have created more than 900,000 new jobs. Thanks to the middle-class tax cut and the tax-free Canada child benefit, families in the riding of Cloverdale—Langley City have more money in their pockets to help make ends meet. However, it is important to recognize that there is still more work to do, and we need to get on it now. Budget 2019 is a good next step that would help ensure that all Canadians share in this growing prosperity.
The biggest issue I hear about at doors in Cloverdale—Langley City is housing. Everyone needs a safe and affordable place to call home, but today too many Canadians are being priced out of the housing market. This budget would help address this issue in several ways.
To start, budget 2019 proposes to invest $300 million to launch a new housing supply challenge. The housing supply challenge would invite municipalities and Canadians across the country to propose new ways to break down barriers that limit the creation of new housing.
We would also expand the rental construction financing initiative, helping to build more affordable rental options for Canadians so they can live near where they work or study, and we are tackling homelessness across the country through the reaching home strategy.
A new rental building project in my riding, with 100 units, had more than 2,000 people apply for those units, demonstrating the need for significantly more rental options in Cloverdale—Langley City.
Budget 2019 proposes an additional $10 billion over nine years, extending this program until 2027-28. This would help create 42,500 new rental units across Canada, with a particular focus in areas of low rental supply.
To address the difficulty young families may have buying their first home, through Bill , budget 2019 proposes a new first-time homebuyer incentive. With this extra help in the shape of a shared equity mortgage through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadians could lower their monthly mortgage payments, making home ownership more affordable. The incentive would provide funding of 5% or 10% of the home purchase price for existing or new homes respectively, with no ongoing monthly payments required. The program is expected to help approximately 100,000 Canadians buy homes they can afford.
Additionally, budget 2019 proposes to increase the homebuyers' plan withdrawal limit to $35,000 from $25,000. The homebuyers' plan allows first-time home buyers to withdraw from their registered retirement savings plans to purchase or build a home without having to pay tax on the withdrawal.
I am excited about what our investments in infrastructure through budget 2019 would mean for communities across the country that need funding to get local projects done. Through budget 2019, we would ensure that infrastructure funding would get to those who have shown that they are willing and able to get projects done: our local and municipal governments.
We would invest a one-time top-up of $2.2 billion, through the federal gas tax fund, to get infrastructure funding in the hands of those who would ensure that it was invested in jobs to build our communities. This funding would address short-term priorities in municipalities and first nation communities. Cloverdale—Langley City would receive an additional top-up of approximately $2,041,652.03. With 95% of this money going toward TransLink, our regional transit infrastructure, it would help deal with a much-needed expansion in support of a growing network for our growing population.
Working with provinces and territories, the government has approved more than 33,000 infrastructure projects for communities across Canada, supported by federal investments of approximately $19.9 billion. In my riding, these investments will mean better highways, cleaner parks and new community centres. In fact, just last week I welcomed the to my region for a joint funding announcement with the provincial and municipal governments for major improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway.
The $235.5-million investment will upgrade the stretch of highway between 216th Street and 264th Street and will include new high occupancy vehicle lanes, a new underpass and a new truck parking lot. This is an important step in addressing a significant pinch point in the regional transportation network in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley.
Through Bill , budget 2019 proposes measures that would make life more affordable for Canadian seniors and that would empower those who want to stay active and involved in their communities. Our government would increase the GIS exemption from $3,500 to $5,000 per year to give more of our fixed-income seniors the choice to continue to work without being penalized. We would begin proactive CPP enrolment at age 70 to ensure that no seniors missed out on benefits they were entitled to.
We would increase transparency and launch an initiative to change corporate laws to increase oversight and grant the courts a greater ability to review payments made to executives in the lead-up to insolvency, protecting workplace pensions from predatory practices.
Budget 2019 proposes significant additional funding of $100 million over five years, with $20 million per year ongoing, for the new horizons for seniors program so that it can continue to improve seniors' quality of life and better promote their active participation in the community. Many organizations and seniors have benefited from the new horizons for seniors program in Cloverdale—Langley City. With these enhancements, even more seniors would benefit from additional programs.
I would also like to highlight the work we are doing to address the opioid crisis. Through budget 2018, we provided $231.4 million over five years for measures to help address the growing problem, such as one-time emergency funding of $150 million for provinces and territories for multi-year projects to improve access to evidence-based treatment services.
Budget 2019 would build on this work and proposes to provide additional funding of $30.5 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, with $1 million in ongoing funding, for targeted measures to address persistent gaps in harm reduction and treatment. This funding would support efforts to expand access to a safe supply of prescription opioids, protecting people with problematic opioid use from the risk of overdose and death. It would also support better access to opioid overdose response training and to naloxone, a life-saving medication that can stop or reverse an opioid overdose, in underserved communities.
I recently spoke with the hard-working members of the Langley City Fire Rescue Service, who battle this opioid crisis on a daily basis. They agree that continued investments in the fight to end opioid overdoses and deaths is needed.
Budget 2019 is a budget that would work for everyone. Through this budget, we would implement new programs that would help Canadians progress in their careers, address the growing price of medication and advance our plan to grow a clean economy. I would like to go over these briefly.
First, budget 2019 would introduce a new Canada training benefit, a personalized, portable training benefit to help people plan for and get the training they need. Through this measure, Canadians would get four weeks of training every four years, up to $1,000 to help pay for training, income support to help with everyday expenses and the security of knowing that they would have a job to come back to when their training was done. At a recent meeting with the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce the need for a well-trained workforce with relevant skills was discussed. The Canada training benefit would help address this need of business.
Through budget 2019, we would lay the foundation for the implementation of a national pharmacare program while we await the final report of our advisory council on its full implementation. We would do so by creating the Canadian drug agency, a national formulary, and a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.
Finally, budget 2019 would take the next steps in our plan to grow a clean economy and make life more affordable for Canadians. These steps would include deploying new recharging and refuelling stations and working with manufacturers to secure voluntary zero-emission vehicle sales targets to ensure that vehicle supply meets increased demand.
We would also introduce a new federal purchase incentive of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. This would help make zero-emission vehicles a realistic option for more Canadians by making them up to $5,000 cheaper, by building the infrastructure to support them and by encouraging new investments in zero-emission vehicle manufacturing here in Canada. To support businesses' adoption of zero-emission vehicles, budget 2019 proposes that these vehicles be eligible for a full tax write-off in the year they are put to use.
Our government has a plan, and that plan is working. Through budget 2019, we would invest in our communities and support those who need it the most. While there is still more work that needs to be done, budget 2019 would be another step in the right direction. This is a budget that I am proud to stand behind, and I urge every member of this chamber to do exactly the same.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill , the budget implementation act. I had hoped to have an opportunity to speak to the budget itself, but that of course was denied as a result of the filibuster by the member for .
It is a very good budget for Prince Edward Island, and it is a long time coming.
During the Harper years, we were particularly hard done by in our province and in our region. Throughout the Harper years, we saw disproportionate cuts to the civil service. We saw cuts to the employment insurance program, which is so very important in seasonal economies such as the one in Prince Edward Island.
We saw the closure of Veterans Affairs district offices, and this is something near and dear to my heart as the member of Parliament for . Charlottetown is the only place outside the national capital region that has a national headquarters of a federal government department. We are immensely proud that the national headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs is in Charlottetown, so it was particularly troubling to see that district office close. However, we fixed that.
Also during the Harper years, we saw the closure of the citizenship office. Prince Edward Island was left as the only province in Canada without a citizenship and immigration office at a very time when immigration levels in our province were increasing to the point where we now have the highest per capita immigration in the country. However, we fixed that closure of the immigration office.
We went through a period in the Harper years of the slowest economic growth since R. B. Bennett. We fixed that. We saw an accumulation of $160 billion in new debt during the Harper years, and high unemployment.
In Prince Edward Island, there is an old adage that our economy is somewhat different. We are not subject to the swings we see in the rest of Canada. Therefore, when the economy goes in the tank, it does not dip as far in Prince Edward Island, and when the economy is on fire, it does not excel as much as it does in the rest of the country. Part of that could be because of the seasonal economy. Part of that could be because, until recently, there has not been a lot of industry outside of the seasonal economy. The government sector is quite important. The university sector has been quite important. We have seen that change.
This economic boom, this period of unprecedented growth that we have not seen since the pre-Harper years and that we are experiencing right now, is different. Prince Edward Island is not only sharing in that growth; in many categories we are leading the country. We are leading the country with respect to increases in retail sales. We are leading the country with respect to economic growth. We are leading the country with respect to immigration growth. It has been said that the Prince Edward Island economy is on a tear. That is due in no small part to the economic policies of this government.
Immediately upon being elected, this government brought in the Canada child benefit. I mentioned earlier the pride we have over the fact that there is a national headquarters for a federal government department in Prince Edward Island. The payroll at the national headquarters of the Department of Veterans Affairs is $100 million a year, and $100 million a year is very important to the economy of Prince Edward Island.
Just to get a sense of the importance of the Canada child benefit, which was introduced immediately after our election, the amount of money that is brought into Prince Edward Island through the Canada child benefit is $100 million a year, the same as the payroll at the national headquarters. The difference between the Canada child benefit and the payroll at Veterans Affairs is that the Canada child benefit is tax free. That is one factor. There are multiple factors in the success of the P.E.I. economy in recent years, but one of them is the economic policies of this government.
In a certain sense, we have also become victims of our own success. We share in the national housing crunch. The vacancy rate in the riding I am proud to represent is 0.3%. That is in part because of our growing population and the proliferation of Airbnbs. It is in part because there is so much construction happening around Prince Edward Island that it is very difficult to get tradespeople, in part because of our sky-high tourism numbers and in part because of the seasonal economy, which makes Airbnb particularly attractive.
I indicated that we have in a sense become a victim of our own success. That is also the case with respect to labour shortages, which is why programs like the Atlantic growth strategy and the Atlantic immigration pilot have been so very important. It is also why programs like the Canada training benefit, included in this budget, will be very important to us.
That success has also exerted a strain on our health care system, where it has become harder to get a family doctor. Fortunately, this budget also includes increases to the Canada health and social transfer, which will go some way to alleviating that pressure.
This budget will allow Prince Edward Island to continue its impressive record. As I indicated, with respect to housing there is a 0.3% vacancy rate. There are substantial initiatives in the budget to address the housing crunch in this country, including measures to make housing more affordable for first-time homebuyers, including the retail finance initiative. These are all measures that are welcome and necessary, and for once they are measures that are important for a province that is sharing in the economic success we have seen.
Under the reaching home strategy, a $3-million award, administered through the John Howard Society, was recently announced to tackle homelessness in Prince Edward Island. As I indicated with the rock-bottom vacancy rate in our fair province, this is desperately needed. The good people at the John Howard Society and the board that examines the proposals to attack homelessness are to be commended and supported. This investment will no doubt lift them up.
The other thing I want to mention with respect to housing is something that was specifically mentioned in the budget. It is not very often that Prince Edward Island gets a specific mention in the budget, but there were at least a couple. One was with respect to new ferries for the passage from P.E.I. to Îles de la Madeleine and for the passage from Caribou Island in Nova Scotia to Wood Islands in Prince Edward Island. This is something that really has been the life's work of the hon. member for .
On the housing front, there was specific mention of a $50.8-million public housing project in Prince Edward Island. This public housing project is designed for people with complex multiple needs: social, medical and psychological needs. In part, this investment will replace the aging Hillsborough Hospital, but it will be much broader than that. It is an indication of where the government's heart and head are in supporting those who are most vulnerable and providing for those battling mental health, addictions and complicated problems.
I want to close by mentioning two other specific things in the budget. There was specific mention of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. The Confederation Centre of the Arts was built as a monument to the Fathers of Confederation back in 1967. This budget included a $500,000 annual increase to the operating budget of the Confederation Centre of the Arts.
The cultural industries are so important to my province, so important to my riding and so important to this country. I am proud, as a Prince Edward Islander, to be able to support this budget.
Mr. Speaker, the government was proud to put forward its budget on March 19, but what Canadians got was another budget absolutely filled with another huge deficit.
As noted by Ian MacDonald, editor of Policy Magazine:
For [the] finance minister..., the budget was an opportunity to move on from a legacy of broken promises—he pledged $10 billion a year of deficits over four years to balance the books by 2019. Four years later, the projected cumulative deficit from 2016 to 2022 is more than $100 billion, with balance nowhere in sight....
Today I am going to focus my remarks on the current economic climate in Canada, specifically in relation to the housing markets and the government's drive to continue to spend, spend, spend.
Across Canada, there are many thoughts about when to run a deficit and when to increase the national debt load. In my riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London, I recently did a survey. In it, over 90% of my constituents said they would like to see a balanced budget in the near future.
I recognize that there is a time for deficits and there is a time to ensure that our economy is strong, but we have a and a who do not seem to use the same philosophy as many economists.
There is a big question here, and it comes down to the word “affordability”. I checked the Cambridge Dictionary for its definition, because affordability is going raise big questions as we move into the 2019 election. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, affordability is defined as “the state of being cheap enough for people to be able to buy”.
In its budget, the government brought forward two specific programs focused on first-time homebuyers, trying to find something to make sure that housing was more affordable. First the government increased the RRSP withdrawal amount for homes. Previously, people could remove $25,000, and that has been increased to $35,000. Second, the government introduced the first-time homebuyers incentive.
With respect to the first measure, I have had the opportunity to speak to many real estate agents from LSTAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association. For several years, they have been asking the government to increase the RRSP amount to $35,000. Although I totally agree with that, we have to recognize that right now Canadians are being nickel-and-dimed. They do not have extra money to put into RRSPs so that they can take out more money when buying a home.
This is a huge concern for me. We are talking about affordability here, but people are going home with less money from their paycheques. Canadians are paying more into the Canadian pension plan. They are also now paying the newly introduced carbon tax, especially in the province of Ontario. When I was driving last week, I noticed that Canadians are now spending up to $1.60 a litre on gasoline.
Canadians cannot afford what the government has to offer. Saving money in an RRSP is truly not an option for Canadians.
The government also put forward the first-time homebuyers incentive. Earlier today, a PBO report came out, and I want to read its findings into the record. It noted:
Estimation and projection method:
The cost of the program reflects the cost of borrowing $1.25 billion over three years. CMHC would borrow $250 million in 2019-20, and $500 million in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The estimate was calculated using PBO marginal effective interest rate projections on Government of Canada borrowing.
The uncertainty assessment is the key here, and this is what the PBO reported in that respect:
The estimate has high uncertainty. Many of the details relating to the program have yet to be determined or published, therefore many assumptions are used. We assume no credit losses on debt; no gains or losses in the equity holding; 100% of the loans are administered at the beginning of the fiscal year, except in 2019-20 (September 1); the portfolio is fully dispersed at all times, that is, any principal repayments are immediately redistributed to other eligible buyers.... The estimate is sensitive to changes in interest rates, which can vary over time. There is insufficient information on the program to quantify a behavioral response.
This is similar to what my colleague said earlier. It is as if Liberals come up with some of these plans on the back of a napkin. When coming forward with plans, they should be asking how things are actually going to pan out and what we will get in the long run.
Douglas Porter, who members may know is from BMO, has indicated:
The program will only apply to those with household income below $120,000, and with a maximum mortgage and incentive amount of 4-times income. As such, the impact will be contained to the lower end of the market below roughly $500,000 and, arguably, that’s the level where affordability challenges only really begin.
He provides an example here. He notes that the first-time homebuyers incentive looks great on paper, but we have to understand the reality of the markets in both the greater Vancouver area and the greater Toronto area.
One cannot find an average home of $500,000 in those locations. When we are talking about this, although the Liberal government has come out with this great plan, the biggest areas with affordability issues will not even come close to what the buyers are looking for. One will not be able to buy a house in Toronto or Vancouver because that amount is lower. I am not saying it is a good or a bad program. However, as I said, it looks like it was done on the back of a napkin, because the affordability issue has not been addressed through this new program.
Also, according to a Bloomberg report, we have to look at household debt. The report states:
Household debt in Canada, a nation generally known for moderation, has reached levels that could be qualified as excessive. Canadians owe C$2.16 trillion—which, as a share of gross domestic product, is the highest debt load in the Group of Seven economies.
Until recently, Canada had been lauded as a bastion of sound financial management. The country of 37 million emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis, thanks in large part to the strength of its banks. But the extended run of low interest rates that followed sparked a boom in borrowing, with the ratio of debt to disposable income rising to a record 174 percent in the fourth quarter, from 148 percent a decade earlier.
It further says:
Households are feeling the strain. The debt service ratio—a measure of how much disposable income goes to principal and interest payments—climbed to 14.9 percent in the fourth quarter, almost matching the 2007 record high. A total of 31,900 Canadians filed for insolvency in the three months through December, the most since 2010. Credit growth is running at its slowest annual pace since 1983.
That takes us back to the deficit. That is why I wanted to talk about where Canadians are at: what they actually have, what their own credits and debits are, what they have as a bankroll and what they have for savings. We have a Canadian who is now spending more per person, inflation-adjusted, and has accumulated more debt per person than any other prime minister outside of a world war or recession. We are talking about good fiscal times and extraordinary spending.
Why should this concern us? With increased debt load, there are fewer resources available to provide the programs Canadians need. The final result are financial burdens on future generations, generations that are having increased debt loads due to things like housing, education and, actually, the carbon tax. People need to go to the grocery store and put gas in their tanks, although everything costs more.
This is a generation that has less money to save and less money to invest in the future. Why? We now have a government that is going to continue to spend, spend, spend, so the debt load at home continues to get larger, and the debt load here at the Government of Canada continues to get larger. This brings me back to my original quote indicating that, under the current government, the deficit is projected to increase to over $100 billion.
It also brings me to the data that I have been looking at in different magazines, looking at the growth of the total industry and the goods industry. At the beginning of the government's mandate, we continued to see increased growth in the GDP, growth that started under the former Conservative government. According to data received and published, we have seen an ever-growing decline in the goods industry. By looking at those charts, we can see that we were going up and in the last year and a half to two years, we are beginning to go down, climbing down to lower rates.
As Kevin Page states:
Output in the goods sector has declined over the past year due to weakness in mining and manufacturing. Business investment is falling. Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund recently raised alarm over rising uncertainty due to trade tensions, the potential for financial market corrections and geopolitical issues. Projected growth rates in the Budget for 2019 (GDP up 1.8 per cent) look strong given the weakness in the latest GDP estimates. Projections for future sales in the Bank of Canada business outlook survey have flatlined.
This is the part where we must be concerned. We are talking about debt loads at home continuing to increase and the government continuing to have increased debt loads as well. How can people prepare themselves for the future?
I always state when I am in this House that I am a proud mother of five. I am very concerned about their future, as I know that the government has no problem just continuing to throw the debt load on top of that. That is why I want to finish off with a quote that I found from Kevin Page, who quotes the writer Stephen King: “There is no harm in hoping for the best as long as you're prepared for the worst.” I feel that the government has not prepared Canada's economy and it has not prepared our future generations for what it has left behind.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lend my support to budget 2019 as a road map to a more prosperous and equitable future for our communities. Three years ago, I stood in the House and spoke about the potential in budget 2016, that it would provide Canadians the tools they need to innovate and to build a stronger, healthier and greener Canada.
Since 2016, Canadians have used tools such as tax cuts for the middle class, infrastructure spending and the Canada child benefit to stimulate growth, helping to create over 950,000 jobs. In fact, Guelph now has the lowest unemployment in Canada, at 1.9%. In 2018, we reduced our projected emissions for 2030 by an additional 21 million tonnes since last year, while still growing the Canadian economy and lifting 800,000 people out of poverty, including many seniors, three years ahead of schedule.
These are the results Canadians voted for in 2015, but for the people of Guelph and me, we know that better is always possible. Despite job growth and increased opportunity for young people, home ownership for many residents still remains out of reach. As well, there is a large body of politicians who still cast doubt on climate change while the majority of Canadians are demanding action.
Budget 2019 is our plan to move forward and build on the gains made over the last three years. Infrastructure is the backbone of any successful nation and that is why, beginning with our first budget, we began investing in infrastructure. Currently, the government has a plan in place that is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years to build infrastructure in our communities, approving more than 33,000 infrastructure projects from coast to coast to coast.
We have heard from Canadians. They agree overwhelmingly that they want their municipalities to continue to build their communities. Because many municipalities across Canada continue to face serious infrastructure deficits, budget 2019 will provide municipalities with a one-time transfer of $2.2 billion through the federal gas tax fund to address priorities in municipalities and in first nation communities. These investments in our communities will help to build community centres, roads, schools, play structures and more, but also spur the creation of jobs, in fact thousands of jobs in construction. We are hoping the Province of Ontario will return to collaborating as a key partner in investing in our community.
Canadians who work hard and contribute to the Canadian society deserve to retire in dignity. Since 2015, we have improved the old age security benefit, the guaranteed income supplement, as well as the Canada pension plan. Enhancing the Canada pension plan, starting in 2019, will provide more money for Canadians when they retire. This translates into an increase in the current maximum retirement benefit of more than $7,000 per year, from $13,610 to almost $21,000 per year.
However, seniors are still struggling with the rising costs of prescription medication. Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Brand-name medicines cost on average 20% more in Canada than they do in other advanced economies. Seniors living on a fixed income are some of the most vulnerable when these costs rise.
The first step we will take is to provide Health Canada with $35 million over four years, starting in 2019-20, to establish a Canadian drug agency transition office to support the development of this vision. In order to address rare diseases, budget 2019 proposes to invest up to $1 billion over two years, starting in 2022-23, with up to $500 million per year ongoing, to help Canadians with rare diseases get the drugs they need.
I am surprised that I have to say this, but climate change is real. When we look at the Ottawa River tonight, we see the banks overflowing with water. We see climate change happening across the Prairies with droughts. We see extreme weather in different parts of Canada, showing that things are changing. Denying this will only make it harder and harder to address. Thankfully, we have taken action. In budget 2018, we reduced our projected emissions for 2030 by an additional 21 million tonnes, and we are just starting to get going.
Last week I participated in a student-run town hall on climate change. The message was clear. Canadian youth want their leaders to act swiftly to curb the effects of climate change. Almost every student in the gymnasium who I spoke with said that we were not doing enough and we were not doing it fast enough.
Budget 2019 will help advance our climate change objectives by investing in energy efficient retrofits. We are investing $1.01 billion to increase energy efficiency in residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings. This program was just announced, with links, this afternoon. Applications are being accepted up until May 13. Of this $1 billion, $300 million will go to support home energy retrofits to help replace furnaces and install renewable energy technology through the community eco-efficiency acceleration initiative. That is available now.
We will set aside another $300 million to provide financing for affordable housing developments to improve their energy efficiency in new and existing housing. That will help to support not only onsite energy generation, but reduce the cost of energy that is used in the housing units.
A further investment of $350 million will provide municipalities and non-profit community organizations with financing and grants to retrofit and improve the energy efficiency of large community buildings in Canadian municipalities, both large and small.
Since Ontario has opted out of the climate change incentives, these funds will be directly available to our communities via the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. The money collected will be returned to municipalities and businesses.
Emissions from vehicles are also a principal source of pollution in our air. As co-chair of the auto caucus, we are looking at this with respect to the car of the future.
To encourage more Canadians to buy zero-emission vehicles, budget 2019 proposes $300 million over three years to introduce a new federal purchase incentive of up to $5,000 for electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of less than $45,000. That will impact 27 models that are currently available, but it also gives a signal to manufacturers that this is the threshold that our programs operate under so they can look at ways to get their vehicles under that cost.
As well, businesses purchasing EV or hybrid vehicles will be able to fully write-off the cost in the first year. The goal is to achieve 10% EV or hybrid purchases in the next two years. The proposed growth under the former incentive program the Ontario government was to go from 1% EV vehicles to 4%. As soon as that incentive was removed, we went down to 1% again. We want to recover and grow that up to 10% of EV purchases over the next two years.
Electric vehicles face a major obstacle though. Recharging stations are difficult to find sometimes when away from home. I have heard this in my community and from other EV owners. To correct this and expand the network of zero-emission vehicle charging stations, budget 2019 proposes to build on previous investments by providing Natural Resources Canada with $130 million over five years. This investment will help deploy new recharging stations in workplaces, public parking spots, commercial and multi-unit residential buildings as well as in remote locations.
This year we have brought to an end the days of free pollution. For provinces that do not have a plan in place, we have implemented a plan across the country that will balance not only reducing the cost to families through incentives going back, but also putting a price on pollution.
While I wish I could speak to every initiative in budget 2019, such as skills training, advancing reconciliation and having lifted 850,000 people out of poverty, I can see my time is just about at an end.
This budget is going to continue the work we began in 2015 by creating a more inclusive, a more sustainable and a prosperous country for all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill , the first budget implementation act for 2019.
First, this was a phenomenal budget for my constituents in Brampton North and for all Canadians. It would take far more than 10 minutes to talk about all of its strengths, but I will highlight some of its biggest wins for Brampton in the time I have been given.
In a city as fast growing as Brampton, infrastructure spending is especially critical. More Bramptonians make use of our roads and public transit system every day. Brampton Transit saw its ridership grow by 14% last year, with over 30 million total rides, making it the fastest-growing transit system in Canada. Budget 2019 embraces and invests in that growth.
A one-time transfer directly to municipalities will see the City of Brampton receive over $16.6 million in additional infrastructure spending. The region of Peel, which Brampton is in, is receiving a further $41 million through this transfer. This is money that can go toward improvements to our roads and highways. It can buy new buses, in addition to the 22 buses our government has already funded, or renovate transit hubs. It can make critical repairs to our water and waste water system. It can go toward new sports or cultural centres as well.
This funding is a big deal for Brampton, and I am thrilled it was in our budget.
However, let us not forget why this money is so important. Our government has billions of dollars on the table for the Province of Ontario through our investing in Canada infrastructure program, and $8.3 billion are available for public transit alone. Can my city apply directly to the federal government for funding? No, it cannot. For that funding to be available, the provincial government needs to come to the table. It is Premier Ford's responsibility to open up funding streams to be a full partner and get these projects going.
I have had many meetings with my city councillors, regional councillors and the mayor of Brampton. We all seem to agree that these projects cannot open up soon enough. However, it seems that Doug Ford does not want to invest, does not want to create jobs. Time is running out. The summer construction season is practically under way. Unions, trade associations and contractors are speaking up. They are concerned they will not have any work this summer.
While the province refuses to let cities apply for public transit funding, refuses to let them apply for any infrastructure funding, billions of dollars are being left on the table, as are the jobs and projects that come with it.
However, perhaps I am focusing too much on public transit funding. After all, looking at the Ontario transit plan, it does not look like Premier Ford intends for Brampton to receive any of it. A $28.5-billion transit line for downtown Toronto will take up every drop of infrastructure funding from multiple levels of government and then some, while leaving my city and my constituents out in the cold.
However, the municipal infrastructure funding is far from the only important part of budget 2019 for Brampton North.
If there is one thing my constituents have wanted in Brampton for a very long time, it is a university. Much like our government, we are a city that strongly believes in the value of learning and access to a good education. Our government's changes to make post-secondary education more affordable have been well received.
Within our first year of government, we increased Canada student grants by 50%. We ensured that graduates were not required to start making payments on their loan until they were earning $25,000 a year. We have more than doubled the number of Canada summer jobs so more students can get valuable work experience and save money for tuition or living costs.
Changes proposed in budget 2019, which are included in Bill , will extend the interest-free period on student loans by six months, giving students room to breathe following graduation.
Investing in all levels of education, including post-secondary education, is essential to ensuring young people get the skills, training and opportunities they need to succeed in the workforce, now and well into the future. Our government understands that. My constituents understand that. I am proud that many of them joined in the province-wide walkout on April 4 to protest Premier Ford's education system changes. While we are making the six-month period interest-free, Premier Ford has taken away that period completely.
This is why so many of my constituents were devastated when one of the first things the newly elected Conservative provincial government did was cut the funding for the downtown Ryerson University campus. The cuts were unexpected and they blew a hole in Brampton's vision for an economic revitalization of our downtown core. They were universally condemned by my community.
I recall the president of Brampton's board of trade commenting that the move to cut funding did not inspire confidence in the government's decision-making—
Mr. Speaker, this is completely relevant. I am contrasting what happens when there is a government with a vision that makes cuts and a government that invests in growth.
After that university cancellation announcement, both I and my fellow Brampton MPs spent months speaking with Ryerson and with my city and with provincial counterparts. We advocated tirelessly to our colleagues, including the hon. , to ensure that Brampton's interests were being heard, even if the province was not listening.
It worked. Included in budget 2019 was an $80 million investment over four years to support three or more cybersecurity networks across Canada, which are affiliated with a post-secondary institution. Ryerson's cybersecure catalyst was mentioned by name, and I believe it will be a strong contender for the funding. We are expecting to make announcements in the coming months.
Another common issue constituents raise with me is the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. As our government has constantly said, we firmly believe that no Canadian should have to choose between paying for prescription medication or putting food on the table. While Canadians are proud of our health care system, they are still forced to make this impossible decision.
I could draw attention once again to the many cuts to health care funding that Premier Ford's government has managed to put forward in a remarkably short amount of time, but there is just too much ground to cover there and not enough time in the few minutes I have left.
In budget 2018, our government established an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. After talking to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we are awaiting its final report. However, through budget 2019, we are laying the foundation for a national program. This includes the creation of a Canadian drug agency. Together with the provinces and territories, this agency will negotiate drug prices for all Canadians, lowering costs by up to $3 billion per year. We are also putting in place a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases which will help families most in need.
Looking through this legislation and comparing it to recent events, I am convinced this budget truly has the interests of Canadians at heart. We are taking action to make their lives better in real and tangible ways. We are helping the people who need it most, not burying our heads in the sand through cuts and more cuts. We are giving people the tools they need to grow Canada's economy on their own. It is their hard work that is building an incredibly strong economy for today and laying the foundation for continued growth for years to come.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak about the budget implementation act, 2019. While the budget acknowledges anxieties facing Canadians today, the government is failing to show a sense of urgency for addressing the underlying causes.
The budget contains misguided priorities and also includes delays and a lack of funding for serious issues, such as climate change, child care and universal prescription drug coverage. With the last budget of its mandate, the Liberal government has failed to take the bold actions Canadians want to build a more sustainable and equitable future and a better Canada.
Canadians, particularly young Canadians, are deeply worried about climate change. Last month, high school students in Nelson joined thousands from across the country and the world, who had been walking out of class to demand stronger action on climate change. I also received passionate letters from grades 5 and 6 Ktunaxa students. They are worried about polar bears and the environment. I have special concern for my granddaughter Lalita, who at times worries if her generation will have a future at all.
The IPCC says we have less than 12 years to act to avert climate catastrophe and a recent report found Canada was warming at twice the global average. Bold, urgent action is needed. However, the budget continues to delay phasing out fossil fuel subsidies that jeopardize our ability to transition to a green economy before it is too late. It proposes simply to study subsidies pointing to a peer review process announced last June.
Earlier this month, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development found the government's attempts to study fossil fuel subsidies had been flawed. Her audits found the government had failed to do a fulsome inventory of subsidies and did not consider long-term environmental and social impacts on an equal basis with economic factors.
The time is now to end fossil fuel subsidies and begin the shift to renewable energy, public transit and energy efficiency. That should not, however, include handouts to hugely profitable corporations such as Loblaws. Actions such as that show the government is out of touch and failing to support Canada's small businesses and workers in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
As the NDP's critic for national parks, I am also disappointed to see no funding has been allocated to protect Parks Canada's assets from climate change despite a recent report commissioned by the agency estimating this would cost up to $3.3 billion. In fact, it seems Parks Canada has lost $15 million from its budget, which was returned to the fiscal framework after the cancellation of the Icefields Trail project instead of being allocated to other urgent park priorities, like adaptation.
Canadians are also deeply anxious about affordability issues. They are grappling with sky-high housing costs in a time of stagnant wages and precarious work. The dream of owning a home and being able to retire feel like they are slipping out of reach for many.
The budget includes measures targeting millennials who want to buy their first home, but these measures are misguided. One proposal is to increase the amount first-time homebuyers can borrow from their registered retirement savings plans to $35,000. However, Abacus Data reports its research found only 36% of millennials even had an RRSP. Many young Canadians are struggling to save for a home or their retirement because of high student debt and lack of affordable child care. The budget does little to address these issues.
In British Columbia, the $10-a-day child care pilot project introduced by the NDP government has been a game-changer for the families selected to participate, including one of my former staff members in Nelson. There have been media reports of families saving around $1,000 a month or more on child care under that program.
The budget acknowledges that the lack of affordable child care is putting education, employment and home ownership out of reach for parents, particularly mothers. Despite this, the 2019 budget provides no new funding to make affordable child care a reality for more families.
One of my staff members in Ottawa spends more than a third of her take-home pay on day care for her toddler, but considers herself lucky because she was able to secure a licensed spot. Like most of the country, in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, there is a shortage of licensed child care spots and parents sign up for wait-lists before their children are even born.
The budget acknowledges that women's participation in the workforce has stalled since the early 2000s and researchers cite access to quality, affordable child care as an important factor in encouraging women's attachment to the workforce.
Last month the Cranbrook Boys and Girls Club announced it was closing its licensed child care program for three-year-olds to five-year-olds because it had been unable to recruit qualified staff.
Recruitment and retention of early childhood educators is a major problem in Canada due to the low wages in this female dominated field. However, the federal government is not taking urgent action to address this issue.
Meanwhile, Sarah, a pharmacist in Kimberley, is leading an effort to get more after school care programs running in town. She conducted a survey that found that many local mothers are unable to work because of the lack of after school care or their employment options are extremely limited due to school hours.
Almost two decades ago, scholar Rianne Mahon termed the quest for universal child care the never-ending story. The has called it a long-term vision. Frankly, mothers are done listening to this story. An NDP budget would make funding universal, high-quality, affordable child care a priority, because it is good for families, for children and for the economy.
I was also disappointed to see that the budget would take the half-measure of reducing interest rates on student loans instead of eliminating interest entirely. Last month I wrote to the and the to request that they follow B.C.'s lead. It stopped charging interest on provincial student loans this February.
Too many Canadians of all ages are also anxious about how they will afford the medications they need, and the health of our nation is suffering. My constituency offices have heard stories of people taking half doses of their medications, risking anaphylactic reactions instead of purchasing EpiPens or waiting until payday to fill prescriptions.
Instead of acting with a sense of urgency to establish a universal, comprehensive public pharmacare program that would lower drug costs and cover everyone, the budget would delay this important work. The budget proposes funding over four years for the establishment of a new drug agency while not taking steps to deal with inadequate and unequal coverage across the country. It would also delay funding for those living with rare diseases until 2022.
Studies show that pharmacare would save Canada money and improve health outcomes, and most Canadians want us to fill this critical gap in our medicare system. The time for talk and study is over; it is now time to act. Canadians need to be able to use their health care cards, not their credit cards, when picking up their prescription medications.
The NDP has a plan to ensure that pharmacare is available for all by 2020, and I encourage the Liberal government to take a serious look at what can happen if it is truly committed to a better Canada.
Another anxiety many retirees and workers have is whether the pensions they have earned from years of hard work will be secure and not stolen if their company goes bankrupt, as happened with Sears Canada.
Instead of moving forward with overdue changes to bankruptcy laws to protect workers and pensioners, as suggested by my colleague, the member for , the budget asks them to rely on the good faith of corporate executives. This is out of touch with the experience of retirees who saw their pensions cut while executives got bonuses and shareholders received dividend payments. Pensions are deferred wages and need to be given super-priority status in bankruptcies.
The budget does contain some positive measures, such as increasing federal investments in broadband and setting a target for achieving high-speed Internet connectivity across the country by 2030.
In February, I gave a speech in Parliament about the digital divide between rural and urban Canada and urged the government to make funding this issue a priority in the budget. I am pleased to see that the government is acting on this issue, but 2030 does not show urgency. Rural cellphone coverage and the affordability of cell and Internet service also remain pressing concerns for Canadians.
I am also pleased to see a top-up of the federal gas tax fund this year, which will lead to an estimated $280 million in extra funding for local governments in B.C. and funding for the green municipal fund to support energy efficiency initiatives.
Every year I ask my constituents whether their lives are better, worse, or the same six months after a federal budget. While the government has been quick to bail out corporations like SNC-Lavalin or Kinder Morgan, it continues to tell ordinary Canadians to wait for solutions to their problems. Unfortunately, there is very little in this budget that will benefit my constituents, while adding $19.8 billion in debt for our children and grandchildren to pay off. An NDP budget would make different choices and put people and the planet at the centre of government policies.