That, given that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian billionaires are $37 billion richer while the most vulnerable are struggling, the House call upon the government to put in place a new one percent tax on wealth over $20 million and an excess profit tax on big corporations that have been profiteering from the pandemic, and to re-invest the billions of dollars recouped from these measures to: (a) expand income security programs to ensure all individuals residing in Canada have a guaranteed livable basic income; (b) expand health care, including by putting in place a national dental care program and a universal, single-payer, public pharmacare program; and (c) meaningfully implement the right to housing with the full plan set out in the Recovery for All campaign and immediately fund a "For Indigenous, By Indigenous" urban, rural and Northern housing strategy delivered by Indigenous housing providers.
He said: Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the very eloquent member of Parliament for .
It is really an honour at this time in our nation's history to lead off on the NDP's action plan to ensure no one is left behind in our country. The context at this period of time is so important. We have just paid tribute to Remembrance Day in the House of Commons. In a few days' time in cities and towns and villages right across this country, we will remember on November 11.
It is clear that it will not be like previous years' ceremonies. Normally in New Westminster, just a few blocks from my home, over 5,000 people gather in front of the cenotaph and thousands more watch on local community television to ensure we remember and pay tribute.
There was, during the Second World War, a real notion of shared sacrifice and that we were all in this together. My family, like so many others, paid the ultimate sacrifice. The names of my uncle and my grandfather are inscribed on the cenotaph before the city hall.
My elderly parents are just a few homes away from mine, where I am speaking from. They are now 97 and 98 years old. They tell us about that period of time during the Second World War and that notion of shared sacrifice and that we are all in this together. At that time, as the House well knows, there was rationing in place to ensure everybody received what was essential. There were strict laws against excess profits and profiteering to ensure the resources of our nation were marshalled to fight against the threat and to ensure we made it through that period with no one left behind.
I raise all of these points because we can learn lessons from how we responded as a nation to that crisis and how, as a result of that, following the Second World War, because we had marshalled those resources together and ensured no one was left behind, we were able to put into place the famous peace dividend.
Following the Second World War, we were able to build 300,000 homes across this country for returning men and women in the service to ensure their right to housing. The home I am speaking from, 109 Glover Avenue in New Westminster, is one of those 300,000 homes built by the federal government following the Second World War.
With the peace dividend, we were able to build schools as well and expand our health care system. It is during this time in the post-war period that Tommy Douglas, judged by Canadians from coast to coast to coast as the greatest Canadian in our history, was able to undertake the fight to ensure we put in place a universal medicare system.
At that same time, we started to put into place some income supports as well. They were full of holes, but there was a sense that we were all in this together and that in the post-war period we could make those investments to ensure nobody was left behind. I raise that because it is very illustrative of the direction we need to take as a country. I know the national , who will follow me, will outline the importance of putting into place in a very real sense a society where nobody is left behind and where we are all in this together.
That is why the NDP is bringing forward this action plan to ensure no one is left behind today. We have seen, in this pandemic, no laws against excess profits and no discouragement of profiteering. In fact, we have seen quite the opposite. What we have seen is an unbelievable concentration of wealth, with Canada's billionaires adding $37 billion to their profits, and the banking sector, with incredible federal government largesse, being able to increase their profits as well. Unlike other countries, prosperous countries like Norway and Switzerland, we have not put in place a simple wealth tax that would allow the resources of the nation to be marshalled to ensure nobody is left behind.
The stories that have emerged through this pandemic are very compelling. We pay tribute to our frontline workers and first responders. It is vitally important to pay tribute to them so that we make the investments, so that no one is left behind.
I mentioned the banking sector earlier. It is important to note that the federal government stepped up within days to ensure an unbelievable amount of liquidity support: $750 billion. Three-quarters of a trillion dollars, within days, was put in place to ensure that the profits of the banking sector were maintained and enhanced. At the same time, we have seen people with disabilities in our country struggle over the course of seven months before even some Canadians with disabilities received some modicum of support from the federal government.
Imagine, people with disabilities who often barely have the wherewithal to put food on the table or keep a roof over their head, because of the paucity of income supports, are now struggling to pay for additional expenses, such as masks, gloves and cleaning supplies that are needed to get through this pandemic and to keep themselves safe and healthy. Yet, the federal government waited over seven months, after many months of struggle by the NDP caucus, to finally put into place a basic emergency support of a one-time payment, which does not go to everybody with a disability. This is why we need to see put into place a guaranteed livable basic income to ensure that poor Canadians no longer have to struggle all the time just to make sure they can make ends meet.
If nothing else through this pandemic, we have seen the importance of having a robust health care system in place. I mentioned earlier Tommy Douglas, and his fight in the post-war period with the peace dividend to put in place universal medicare. Tommy Douglas always envisioned that health care would not just be hospital stays and doctor visits, but would also include the medication that doctors prescribed, a universal pharmacare system, and dental care.
Finally, during this pandemic we are seeing that Canadians are often struggling for affordable housing. That right to housing that we certainly saw after the Second World War with the peace dividend is something that now must be extended to all Canadians. Particularly, indigenous communities have seen the crisis that exists with the shortage of affordable housing. Indigenous housing providers need to be provided that support so that they can start building the housing that will make a difference in indigenous communities. As we build housing right across this country, we ensure that the right to housing is entrenched in this country.
The message of the pandemic is that we are all in this together, that we must work together. The plan to leave no one behind allows us to ensure that there is an effective approach, both through the pandemic and in the aftermath. We can rebuild better and ensure that the gaping holes we have seen in our safety net as we go through this pandemic are addressed, and that the net is repaired and fully restored.
The Second World War showed us how important it was to set up a system that left nobody behind. During Remembrance Day week, we must remember lessons learned from previous crises Canadians lived through. We should take this opportunity to institute a national guaranteed income, implement the right to housing, and expand our health care system.
All these things can be done if we tax wealth and excess profits.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to follow the powerful words of the member for .
We always have choices and those choices say a lot about what our priorities are. Right now, we are faced with a pandemic. It has been incredibly difficult. It has caused a lot of pain. People have lost their jobs. We know small businesses, mom-and-pop shops, and stores on main streets across Canada, are worried that they might have to shut their doors forever.
People have felt pain in this time. Parents have struggled with finding child care for their kids. Parents have worried about their kids going to school and whether they are safe or not. Seniors have had to bear the brunt of COVID-19 with massive outbreaks in long-term care homes that could have been avoided.
While all those people have felt pain, in this pandemic the wealthiest have increased their wealth. They have not felt the pain. In fact, they have made profits. Since March 2020, Canadian billionaires, the richest Canadians, are $37 billion richer.
We are talking about choices today. The Liberal government and the Conservatives are going to put a choice to Canadians. They are going to raise concerns about debt and deficit. While these are very legitimate concerns, the next step is problematic. They are going to use concern about debt and deficit and then ask everyday people, who have already sacrificed so much, to sacrifice even more.
On October 28, the tweeted, “Our fiscally expansive approach to fighting the coronavirus cannot and will not be infinite. It is limited and temporary.” Let me translate what the Minister of Finance is saying: Cuts are coming. She also cited Paul Martin, who orchestrated some of the most devastating cuts to health care and social programs in Canada's history. She lauded Paul Martin.
I want to put to all members and Canadians that whenever there are difficult times, people are struggling and our economy is struggling, it seems that Liberals and Conservatives have one response. It is always the same response: Let us cut the help that people get, cut health care and cut the supports to people. However, they never say, let us ask those who are the wealthiest to contribute more.
Why is it so natural and easy that when people are hurting and times are tough, the first thing that jumps to the minds of Liberals and Conservatives is, let us cut the help that people who are struggling need? Let us make it harder for them, cut health care and cut the things people need. Why is it that Liberals and Conservatives jump to that? Why is it so hard to imagine another way?
Absolutely, someone is going to have to pay. Times are tough and we are spending a lot to support people in a pandemic and someone is going to have to pay. There is no question about it. If someone is going to pay, should it not be the people who can afford to pay, the wealthiest and those who have made massive profits?
I am not just talking about normal profits. There are companies that make billions of dollars in profits every year. There are corporations that do that on a regular basis. Then we have companies like Amazon, Walmart, Netflix and Facebook that have made record profits during this pandemic off the pandemic and off the backs of the same people who have sacrificed and are struggling.
If we are going to make a choice, should it not be to choose to help people who need help and ask those who have the ability to contribute more, to contribute more? That is what we are asking to do.
There are always choices we have to make and those choices are difficult, but this choice is not difficult. This is a very straightforward, easy choice. How are the Liberals and Conservatives going to look into the eyes of people who are struggling and cut the help they need now? How can they justify that?
How much better would it be if we said, just as we did during the First and Second World Wars, that when companies are making massive and record profits because they are in the right place at the right time, they are in a good position to contribute more? That is really the choice we are setting up.
We are proposing a choice. To me, it is an easy choice to make, but the Liberals and Conservatives still have a hard time understanding it. During hard times, such as what we are going through right now with COVID-19, many people make huge sacrifices. We have observed the negative impact that has had on workers who have lost their jobs and on small businesses that have had to close their doors.
These are indeed tough times, but should we be telling people who have already made sacrifices that they need to make more?
Instead, we could tell people who have made enormous profits, excessive, record profits, that they need to pay their fair share. The New Democrats and I believe that we need to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share. The rich are the ones who should foot the bill for the economic recovery. That should not fall to ordinary people. That is the choice we are proposing today.
We are saying to let us invest in what people need. People need health care. They need to know, if they or their loved ones are sick, they can get the help they need. They need to know they can get the medication they need. They need to know they can get the dental care they need, so they can take care of their teeth.
We need to make sure that when people are struggling and cannot work, there is income support for them, and there is a livable guaranteed income, like what we fought for with the CERB. Again, to point out the differences here, it seems as though every couple months throughout this pandemic the Liberal government was threatening to cut help to people. We had to fight back and say, “No. Why are you cutting help to people?”
It seems a bit bizarre that the government would propose this, but every single time the choice came up to side with the people or to side with the wealthy, it continued to say to cut help to people, cut CERB and cut income supports, while letting the wealthiest get away with using massive tax loopholes, making record profits and paying no money into Canada.
There are so many companies that make profits off of Canadians here in Canada and then take those profits and put them in a bank in another jurisdiction in another country, and they pay no tax in Canada. They make money off of Canadians, but pay no taxes here. Liberals and Conservatives have allowed this to happen. They have been in government in this country, and they have allowed this to happen.
The CRA has even taken companies to court. Judges found that profits were entirely made in Canada off of Canadians, and those profits were taken to another bank in another country. However, that is legal. They are allowed to do that, and the CRA was not able to recover the taxes that were owed to this country.
There is a cost to doing that. That is a choice that the government is making, and that is a choice that Conservatives have made, to allow the wealthiest to continue to exploit our system. That hurts Canadians. Everyday people pay their fair share. We are asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share as well and fund the programs we need.
We are suggesting that the wealthiest pay their fair share so that we can fund the social programs people need. We could also better fund health care. We could support people who cannot work. We could create a fairer society, and that is exactly what we are proposing to do.
I want to point out the choice here, and there are going to be difficult choices to be made. In my last moments I want to say to Canadians that they are going to hear the Liberal government talking about having to cut the help that they need, and they are going to hear the Conservatives try to talk about being their allies. None of that is true, unless they are willing to make sure that the richest in this country, who are enjoying massive loopholes, pay their fair share to afford the programs we need.
We are going to do that. We have always had Canadians' back during this pandemic. We will continue to fight for them, and they can trust us to make sure that we build a Canada where no one is left behind, the richest pay their share and Canadians can live their brightest lives.
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise and speak in the House. Today is a very special day. I appreciated the opening remarks by the , the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the NDP and the leader of the Green Party recognizing the importance of our veterans.
Having had the opportunity to serve in our Canadian Armed Forces, there are a couple of things I am reflecting on. One is the honour and privilege of having the opportunity to march alongside World War II veterans in parades and having the further opportunity to have some discussions with them. What a privilege that was.
A number of years later I was a member of the Manitoba legislature, and one of the most touching moments I can recall was when we had war veterans sitting right behind the members of the legislature. I was in the back row of members, and I could literally turn my chair and have a face-to-face discussion with a war vet. I reflect on that because of the significant contributions our men and women make to our forces, both in the past and today. To echo many of the comments made previously by the leaders, on behalf of Winnipeg North, I wish to recognize and wish the very best to those who are serving today.
Having said all that, I want to get right into the discussion we are having today with respect to the NDP motion. There are a few things that come to mind, and I would like to share with members a number of those thoughts.
I posed this in the preamble to my question for the leader of the New Democratic Party. When we look at what has taken place over the last eight months, virtually from day one the Government of Canada under the has taken a very proactive approach to ensuring we could be there to support Canadians in all areas of our wonderful nation.
We have seen a team Canada approach, which was joined by other levels of government, whether provincial or municipal, of different political stripes. We have seen individuals, businesses, the non-profit sector and everyone in society come together and recognize how important it was that we unify and work collaboratively in order to deal with the pandemic.
We have had very successful moments. What we learned in the first three to four months of the pandemic has assisted us to be able to minimize the negatives of the second wave. It is through those experiences that we were able to prevent lives from being lost, not to mention the thousands of lives that have been saved because we worked collaboratively across this nation to make a difference in fighting the pandemic.
When we look at the national government here in Ottawa, what we have been able to achieve is very significant. I will get into that, but I want to pick up on something that was made reference to already in some of the discussions. I know there are 156 Liberal MPs who genuinely believe that not only was it important that we be there in real and tangible ways for Canadians through this pandemic, but also that we can build back better. If we want to get a sense of that, take a look at the document that was brought forward in the form of a throne speech not that long ago in September.
It gives a very clear vision to Canadians of how we as a government will build back better. That is a message that we need to continue to say, going forward. Yes, there are still going to be some difficult times. People in my province of Manitoba are having a very difficult time in this second wave, but we will overcome it.
As an elected official, I believe in and will work on building back better. That is the reason I posed my question to the . Within this motion, the New Democrats talk about the pharmacare program. I have worked with my daughter, Cindy, for the last few years, and even prior to that, on the importance of pharmacare and medications. I worked on it even before the standing committee in the House four or five years ago went to study the issue, and before there was a commission to look at how we could implement it. The government has invested considerable resources to look at ways to incorporate a pharmacare program. That is why I was encouraged when the said that we need to work with provincial governments.
In the throne speech is an ongoing commitment that states that we need to work with provincial governments in order to achieve better on the pharmacare file. I believe that a good majority of Canadians would like to see us move forward on that file. It is an excellent example of building back better. In the last number of years, this government, and particularly ministers of health, have worked with other jurisdictions and stakeholders to drastically reduce the costs of medications, literally saving hundreds of millions of dollars for consumers over the years. However, we can still do better.
When we talk about the pandemic, I often make reference to why the government needs to engage. I have said on many occasions that close to nine million people have been assisted through the CERB program. That program came from absolutely nowhere. It did not exist prior to the pandemic, yet it has assisted millions of Canadians in a very real, tangible way by allowing them to have the disposable income that is essential for a basic standard of living, to buy groceries and do other necessary things.
We helped Canadians through the wage subsidy program. An estimated three and a half million-plus jobs were saved by the wage subsidy program. These jobs would have been at risk had the government not engaged and provided that program.
It goes well beyond that. We identified certain sectors or areas in our communities and our society that needed to get extra financial resources.
That is why I was happy to see the support given to our seniors in the form of one-time payments. Through support for the GIS and OAS, well over six million seniors received a direct benefit, and the poorest seniors received even more.
Recently there was a disability payout. I am very grateful for it, especially with the second wave hitting, which, in my province, has been more severe than the first wave by far. There are those who have criticized why it took as long as it did, but we need to look at what had to take place to get it distributed. It is not the like the federal government had a data bank that told us who we could send money to. It is not like the GIS or the OAS. We had to work with the civil service and different stakeholders to come up with a mechanism to deliver finances to people with disabilities who needed support.
When we read the resolution, the government has taken significant action, and not just during the pandemic. In 2015 with the change in government, some immediate policy decisions were made by the and the government to deal with income inequality. One was the tax break to Canada's middle class, putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of Canadians in all regions of our country.
The resolution talks about a tax on the wealthiest. It is interesting to see that now. When the NDP had a chance to support the Liberal government's initiative of putting an extra tax on Canada's wealthiest 1%, the NDP voted against it. It had the opportunity to support the tax break for the middle class and the tax increase on Canada's wealthiest 1% and chose to vote against it.
We often hear the phrase referenced earlier, that as a government, since 2015 we have had a strong focus on building Canada's middle class, making the middle class a priority and assisting individuals in whatever way we can to get them into the middle class. That is the reason we developed the Canada child benefit program. There were major changes, with an influx, a term I have used several times already in my speech, of hundreds of millions of dollars into that program. We also prevented cheques being mailed out to millionaires under that program. These are the types of initiatives that have had a very positive impact on Canadians as a whole.
The resolution says we should be doing more on housing and health care and we should be putting a higher tax on the wealthiest.
I have always wondered why the NDP seems to have a different approach when it is in a different position. Let me give an example. For many of the years when I was serving in the Manitoba Legislature, the NDP was in government. I think most colleagues in the House would be surprised to know that between 2003 and 2009, I believe, the provincial NDP government reduced corporate taxes seven times. I remember standing up in the Manitoba Legislature and challenging that issue.
Here is something a little more relevant to the House of Commons. How many of us remember Thomas Mulcair? It was not that long ago. When he was leader of the New Democratic Party the NDP was the official opposition, and at the time the NDP was pretty confident it was going to be the government, replacing Stephen Harper. One of the NDP's most significant policy announcements, and some of my colleagues could probably guess what I am about to say, was on a balanced budget.
My colleague from is one of the most ably minded individuals in this country when it comes to housing, and is a very powerful and strong advocate.
The NDP, in this resolution, is saying that we need to do more. We came up with a multi-billion dollar housing strategy in 2015 that would profoundly, positively affect literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians in all the different regions of the country, and the NDP was critical that we were not doing enough.
I have learned a lot from my colleague. Thomas Mulcair made a commitment for a fraction of what we committed to do in that national housing strategy. As I have said in the past, really, truly, politically, there is no pleasing the New Democrats. For example, as a national government, if we said we were going to build 1,000 homes in Manitoba, the NDP would say, “No, build 10,000 homes.” If we said we were going to build 10,000 homes, the NDP would say, “No, give everyone a home.”
I look at the resolution that my New Democratic friends have brought forward today and I hear them talking about income redistribution, but where were they when it came time to actually vote on the issue? They were on the opposite side of what they are challenging us on today.
I would like to think that going forward we could do better. We have a lot to lose if we, as a government, do not recognize how important it is for us to not only work with Canada's civil servants and other stakeholders to develop programs, but to always monitor and look at them for ways we could improve them.
We have made modifications to programs. I made reference to the wage subsidy program. It has been hugely successful, saving many jobs in all regions of our country. That program is now being extended into 2021.
My time has expired, but hopefully I will get a question and be able to expand a little more.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge a big change in your life. Since the last time I spoke to you, you have taken on $10,000 in personal debt. That is your share of the national debt incurred by the government since March. Every Canadian is another $10,000 in debt, including you, Madam Speaker.
Our deficit this year will be $380 billion. Since there are around 38 million Canadians, that means every Canadian is another $10,000 in debt, or $40,000 for a family of four. Sure, the government sent a bunch of cheques to a lot of families and businesses, but I have yet to meet a family that got $40,000 in benefits from the government.
We certainly support the benefits for people who lost their jobs and the wage subsidies and loans for small businesses. The total spent on these programs that directly support families and businesses is around $180 billion. The deficit is $380 billion, though. We are missing $200 billion. How is it possible to lose $200 billion? Perhaps we will find out later on in the debate.
Each family of four has this new debt of $40,000. If these families are listening to my speech, they can look at the benefits they have received from the government to see whether or not they add up to $40,000. In fact, most of the spending is being lost in bureaucracy and in payments to interest groups with government ties, seeing as wealthy people can afford to hire lobbyists to cash in on this massive spending.
Where does that leave us as a country? We now have a country that is much deeper in debt, where ordinary people have not been able to take advantage of most of the available programs.
Let us look at the numbers. Right now, our national debt is equal to 50% of the value of our economy. In March, it was 30%. In 1996, we had a debt crisis when Canada was almost unable to borrow money on the markets. This forced the federal government to cut tens of millions of dollars from health care and other programs.
In 1996, during this crisis, our debt represented 66.6% of our GDP. In March 2020, that percentage was 30%. Six months later, we have lost half of our breathing room, because our debt now represents 50% of our GDP. This means that in six months, we wiped out more than half of our margin of safety compared to our situation during the historic crisis we went through. This is one of the subjects that the member for Kootenay—Columbia will address in his speech.
True, the current crisis does not quite rise to the level of the one in the 1970s, but we are heading straight for that. This is just government debt. Canada has other debts in the private sector. To that must be added the debt of families, which is now greater than our total GDP, not to mention corporate debt. If we combine these three sources, our debt amounts to 384% of the GDP. This is by far a record for Canada.
Among G7 countries, this is by far the highest percentage, apart from Japan. With a debt equivalent to almost 400% of our economy, that means that an increase in effective interest rates on our economy of 1% would equal 4% of our cost savings.
Consider this. We are talking about $80 billion. Each year, for every 1% increase in the interest rate, the additional cost would be $2,000 per year for every person living in Canada—man, woman or child—or $4,000 for a family of four people.
I know a lot of families in this middle class we keep hearing about, and I do not know many in that group who would be able to pay $8,000 more in interest on their family or government debt, if interest rates went up by 1%. That is the vulnerability that threatens our families and our economy.
The government claims that personal and government borrowing can continue because interest rates are low. Will all these debts be paid off before interest rates rise? I suspect not.
Now we are presented with a plan for recovery. According to the and the Governor of the Bank of Canada, it is the credit card strategy. The idea is for individuals and taxpayers to go into debt to finance the recovery. It is not realistic to rebuild an economy on debt, especially when the debt level is already the highest in our history. The only way to restart our economy is through wealth production, and the only sector capable of producing that wealth is our workers.
We need a plan to help our workers generate income to pay for their personal and family needs, but also to provide revenue to the government, to protect our social programs. That means that the governments have to approve private sector projects to build pipelines, natural gas centres, mines and other projects that would generate billions of dollars in personal and public revenue. We also need to get rid of penalties on benefits and income tax to allow people to get ahead by working. It is by working and being productive that we can pay our bills and contribute to our country, not by accumulating debt. We have to start right away. We have work to do.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise virtually, as we say.
I would like to start off by thanking my colleague from , on behalf of the constituents of Kootenay—Columbia, for his continued work to ensure there is accountability with the government. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this issue of the proposed wealth tax and believe it will ultimately yield a negative impact on hard-working, middle-class Canadians.
Our thinks of successful middle-class business owners as tax cheats. The Conservatives understand there is no Canadian economy without business and a hard-working middle class. It is really as simple as that. In fact, 45.1% of the GDP is what these hard-working, middle-class businesses provide to the Canadian economy every year.
Under the official opposition leader, we will continue to stand up for these entrepreneurs, and the workers they employ across Canada, to ensure they get the support they need to weather this health crisis.
As a condition of their ongoing support for the Liberals, the New Democrats have now demanded a super wealth tax of 1% annually on the net worth of Canadians worth more than $20 million. Why am I talking about the middle class? Let us review recent history.
In the 1990s, for instance, 12 of the 14 members of the European Union had wealth taxes. Now all but three have abandoned the idea. Why have they abandoned the idea of a wealth tax? They abandoned the idea because wealth taxes almost always fail, and when they do, governments turn to the middle class to solve their fiscal problems. Besides being ineffective, wealth taxes have proven to dampen savings and investments, which slows economic recovery and long-term growth. This impacts the middle class directly. This is the wrong move at a time when Canada is struggling as a result of the health crisis.
There are several reasons wealth taxes prove ineffective in raising tax revenues. The wealth tax is challenging to define and measure, which makes it difficult and expensive to administer. In fact, other countries have proven that at least half the money collected is used to administer the program. That is 50%, or up to $3 billion annually, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, that will be used not to help Canadians who need it, but to allow the to pay for bigger government. Wealth taxes almost never raise the amount of money they are estimated to earn, and we know they are expensive to run, so I ask this question: What has more value to Canadian charities, the dollar provided by the philanthropist or 50¢ provided by the Prime Minister?
A wealth tax would be punitive to Canadian success stories and would only serve to restrict the flow of donated money to the very charities that are in need of the support. The fact is that people in need, who these charities serve, are already not getting the same level of service because of the health crisis. This tax would make the problem worse.
Charities across the country are suffering, and that is surely the case in my riding. Donations are down and many charities do not know where they will find the funds to continue. These organizations and businesses are passionate about the charity organizations they support, especially in their communities.
What this government is proposing is that somehow it knows better than philanthropists when it comes to how to redistribute wealth. I respectfully submit that the government does not. There are not too many examples where the government does a better job of running a business than the business itself.
On the surface, a wealth tax appears ideal and almost has a “Robin Hood” ring to it. Unfortunately, the examples that history has for us show otherwise and produce unintended consequences. Rather than putting money into creating jobs here in Canada, and thereby risking an increase in Canadian taxes, it is common for those impacted by a wealth tax to move their assets outside the country. The idea that a single wealth tax will provide the government with a silver-bullet solution to expand and pay for its spending is not rational.
A wealth tax is similar to a property tax, but instead of taxing real estate, it covers wealth in all forms: stocks, jewellery, artwork, cars, houses, boats, retirement savings, antique collectible guns, horses and hockey cards. The list goes on. It includes any asset of monetary value that could be appraised, which in itself raises questions.
The reality is a wealth tax will drive investment out of the country. How can we possibly expect to bring investment into Canada when the government is working through a wealth tax to chase away investors we already have?
Let us look at the numbers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates the NDP wealth tax could raise $5.6 billion a year. The Liberals have pledged to add another $150 billion in deficit spending to the $350 billion already assigned. Even if the wealth tax did generate $5.6 billion in revenues every year, which other examples show it would not, it still leaves $490 billion that has to be raised elsewhere. Where will that come from? I am sure Canadians across the country would like to know how the government intends to cover the difference of $490 billion. The reality is that the differential, in one way or another, will be placed squarely in the hard-working hands of the middle class.
Middle-class Canadians cannot afford the current government. They cannot afford a financial decision-making who has never had to wonder how to pay a $300 utility bill with only $20 remaining in their account. Canadians are already struggling to get by. We need to start delivering meaningful solutions that will move our country forward, and the Conservatives are here to assist in that effort.
The current government and its approach to taxation transparency with Canadians reminds me of that story of the taxpayer who fell into the pot of hot Liberal taxation water. The government turned up the taxes slowly, starting with the wealthiest so as not to alarm the masses. In the end, what they were left with were soaring deficits, failed taxation policies and no option but to turn up the taxation temperature on the middle class.
There are times when we need to face a situation head-on and take the appropriate action when we have the ability to do so before it is too late. A fundamental difference of opinion exists in this House. The Liberals and the NDP want to tax our way out of the economic crisis, where the Conservatives want to harness Canada's most powerful economic tool: the Canadian worker. Winston Churchill, a British statesman, said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Well, here we are again. We know wealth taxes have failed across the pond, and yet despite all the evidence that history would have us learn from, the current government, with the support of the NDP, is working to allow history to repeat itself.
My Conservative colleagues and I have been providing solutions to the government since the onset of this crisis. This week, with the passage of our motion in the House of Commons, Conservatives have secured more help for Canadians harmed by a health crisis. As a result of our efforts, the Liberals will have to pause their punishing audits on small and medium-sized businesses until June 2021 and provide additional flexibility in the Canada emergency rent subsidy, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and other programs that support Canadian families and workers.
This builds on a Conservative track record of standing up for the working class and making the government's emergency programs better for all Canadians. This includes increasing the wage subsidy from 10% to 75%, advocating for changes to the Liberals' failed rent subsidy program and, now, postponing Liberal audits on small and medium-sized businesses.
It is shameful the Liberals failed to support our motion and instead voted for punitive audits on hard-working Canadians. While the Liberals think small business owners are tax cheats, Conservatives know they are the backbone of our economy. Conservatives understand that there is no Canadian economy without our middle class, many of whom are business owners and employers. It is as simple as that. Punishing success does not encourage investment.
We are at a fork in the road. We could choose to tax more and punish successful businesses or we could encourage economic investment, which would result in a safe economic recovery. Conservative leadership will stand up for the workers and the middle class across Canada and ensure they get the support they need to weather this health crisis. Let me be very clear: Conservatives will continue to stand in this House for the working family who needs help. We have been here for them since the onset of this health and economic crisis. We will continue to work on their behalf to refine and improve the current government's programs.
Madame Speaker, I take some comfort in your presence because I was feeling very lonely in my corner and I want you to know that you are my favourite speaker.
As I was reading my colleagues' motion yesterday, I wondered what the intention behind it was. When you look at it, there is more form than substance, but what are they trying to prove and what are they trying to accomplish with these measures?
During the pandemic, as the government responded extensively with the Canada emergency response benefit or CERB, and the Canada emergency wage subsidy or CEWS, it seems to me that this contrasts with the narrative that the NDP wants to develop as a progressive party in this assembly. To reinforce this image of a progressive party, the NDP moved a rushed, flashy motion.
I do not know whether my NDP colleagues truly stand behind the motion that they have moved, but judging by their high turnout, I figure that their conviction must not be as strong as it should be. I am simply putting that out there.
The motion contains references such as “the wealthiest one per cent” and social measures. When we talk about that, generally speaking, we are talking about progressivism.
Since I am talking about progressivism, I would like to try to define what it means to be progressive. We often hear these words. For me, one of the most obvious examples of progressivism is certainly feminism, the struggle of women to define by themselves, for themselves, what their future will be. Women have succeeded in doing this. It is not up to men to define female identity. This is a clear example of what progressivism is over the course of history.
Another essential example is the struggle of labour movements. Workers managed to change the course of society so that attention is paid to their particular status. It is somewhat similar. I see a progressive as someone who says that someone's social standing should not be set in advance. There should not be pre-assigned positions that people cannot get out of. That is the case for people from modest backgrounds. If education and health care were not universally accessible, these people could be stuck in advance in a position.
I see a progressive as someone who is aware of this situation. Not having much capital usually makes it harder to thrive.
Earlier, I was listening to my colleague from , who is a staunch defender of wealth creation. However, that wealth must be distributed. Personally, I do not believe in trickle-down economics—the theory that when wealth is created, it is passed along to others. I do not believe in meritocracy either. Progressives do not buy into the idea that working hard necessarily means we will thrive or succeed in this business world. We know full well that Bill Gates's son probably has it much easier than the son of a single mom. Progressives know that being “the son of” helps a lot. I say this sincerely; I am not talking about the Prime Minister. I am not that mischievous.
Another essential example to help define what it means to be a progressive is the Quiet Revolution. That marked the moment when Quebeckers realized that religion had too big a role in our society because it limited our horizons and defined for us what we should be. There was a broad push for secularism, which gave rise to a new society. In short, being a progressive means struggling to decide your own future and striving to empower each and every individual to do the same, according to what makes them unique.
I remember, last week, we were talking about the War Measures Act. There is a wonderful poem by Miron called La route que nous suivons, or the road we take, in which he writes, “And through our efforts, our hatred of all forms of servitude, we will have become ferocious beasts of hope.” For me, progressives are ferocious beasts of hope.
I think my friend from did not quite understand, since he abstained from voting on our motion regarding the War Measures Act, but that is okay.
In my view, a progressive is someone who understands that there are groups of people who may have difficulties in society, and that they need to be given opportunities that will help them overcome those difficulties.
I think one group the NDP often overlooks is national minorities. There are several in Canada, including indigenous peoples, but there is one that is constantly written off by the NDP in its proposals, namely the Quebec national minority.
In my view, it is clear that the Quebec national minority is constantly seeking greater political autonomy. The New Democrats seem to think “nationalism” is a bad word. However, Quebec nationalism is not combative; it merely seeks to allow Quebec society to thrive.
I would like to come back to an essential notion of federalism, which is respect for areas of jurisdiction. Under the principles of the Canadian federation, if an issue directly affects people and the way they organize themselves in society, it is under provincial jurisdiction. We are familiar with this division and immediately think of social programs, health care, the organization of society in general and cultural issues.
Conversely, if an issue does not directly affect people, but the internal organization of society, it may fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Examples include monetary policy, international trade and the regulation of industry in general. This division is specified under the Constitution.
I would like to come back to the Sherbrooke declaration that my NDP colleagues adopted in 2005. They presented themselves as people who wanted to respect Quebec's jurisdiction to the letter. I do not know what has happened since then, but the motion the NDP is proposing today is very far from respecting Quebec's jurisdiction to the letter. Is that because the NDP has only one member left in Quebec?
This motion infringes on provincial jurisdiction. For example, the implementation of a dental care system is not at all within federal jurisdiction. None of the measures set out in today's motion fall primarily under federal jurisdiction.
What does that mean for me as a person who would describe himself as progressive? It means that there are valid concerns for left-wingers. I completely agree that we need to stand up for the less fortunate. However, there are other subjects that my NDP friends will not speak out about that surprisingly still affect the national minority in Quebec.
We know very well why this distinction was made in the Constitution. It was to ensure that the francophone minority was not swallowed up by the anglophone majority because we are a francophone minority in a sea of anglophones. We need these types of safeguards. If a society is not defined by its social programs, then I do not know what defines it.
When I was a teacher, a major study was conducted that asked Canadians what differences they saw between Canadian and American identity. The first things francophones said were culture and language, which goes without saying, and the fact that Canada favours multiculturalism while the United States takes more of a melting pot approach. However, the answer that English Canadians gave was very different. Most of them said that the health care system is what makes Canada different from the United States.
What does this tell us? It is true that a social measure shapes the identity of individuals. However, I sometimes get the feeling that the NDP takes issue with Quebec's identity since it is proposing federal social measures that do not respect provincial jurisdictions.
Quebec is a progressive society and it has demonstrated that on many occasions. What was the first level of government to implement a child care system? It was the Government of Quebec. The Government of Quebec also grants much more generous parental leave than what is offered under the employment insurance program.
Who instituted the pharmacare our NDP colleagues are talking about? Wait for it: the Government of Quebec.
Over time, Quebec has proven itself to be a progressive society. We have shown that we are a progressive society. Let me share a classic example of how the federal government's actions can create imbalances in social policy and how this has happened in the past. Some progressives, even some in Quebec, promptly condemned Lucien Bouchard. Why? Because, in their view, the birth of neo-liberalism in Quebec happened when Lucien Bouchard made the shift to ambulatory care.
We need to put things into perspective. Why did Lucien Bouchard initiate that shift to ambulatory care? Because at that time in the House, in 1996-97 and 1997-98, Paul Martin repeatedly cut $2.5 billion from health transfers. The Government of Quebec therefore had no choice but to cut costs. What did Lucien Bouchard do during those years? He created $7-a-day child care.
The federal government has created an imbalance. We do not have adequate health care funding, but we are making choices that are consistent with Quebec's identity. We can develop our own programs that will enable us to emancipate ourselves. Earlier I talked about what I believe a progressive is. What bothers me is that our NDP colleagues do not seem to understand it.
Getting back to the motion now, it mentions a guaranteed livable basic income. I said in my introduction that this is more form than substance. It is something we need to think about, but the issue is figuring out how to implement it.
The devil is in the details, as they say. How will this be implemented? What does that entail? Quebec already has livable basic income programs. For example, social assistance is a livable basic income. The support provided by the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail is a livable basic income. The Quebec pension plan is a livable basic income. Parents of children with disabilities have access to other types of livable basic income programs. What happens to those? Do they all get thrown out? How would that work?
I am not trying to be mean, but I think the NDP presented this motion because they see the Liberals swerving to the left and looking a bit more progressive than them. This is what we would call a dog and pony show. The NDP figured they would put on a show and move a motion. That way, they could say that the Liberals and the Bloc voted against it and that the NDP is the only leftist party.
They make unrealistic proposals and claim to be the only ones on the left. Not only are these proposals unrealistic, they do not respect the constitutional rights of one of the core minorities in Quebec, the Quebec minority. This falls under the jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec.
To me it goes without saying that on the issue of a guaranteed livable basic income, the motion is a bit irresponsible. How can they move such a motion in the middle of a pandemic? Do they think that everyone is going to vote in favour of this in the middle of a pandemic when there are a tonne of issues to resolve? They want to shuffle the deck and completely change the social support system without conducting a comprehensive study or asking Quebeckers what they think. I often hear my friends in the NDP claim to be champions of the national indigenous minority, but they did not ask the first nations what they thought about this. That shows that this is just a charade.
Let's be honest: It will take years to get a basic livable income up and running. It will certainly take a lot more than moving a simple flashy motion.
The other element is the national dental care and pharmacare programs. That is the epitome of a centralist vision. It is the epitome of the NDP's centralist vision. It is up to the Government of Quebec to decide if it will establish a dental care plan, not the federal government. Those who are progressive and left-leaning—that is how I view myself—prefer a top-down, or bottom-up, approach.
It must come from the bottom, the social movements and the people. Therefore, a measure such as a national dental care program must come from Quebec. If it decides to have one, it will. It must come from the bottom and not the top. A centralist, “Ottawa knows best” approach will not define how services will be provided by the Government of Quebec to society. That also applies to pharmacare. The Quebec government already has its own system.
I was getting somewhere earlier when I said that we must see how people define their identity. Some Canadians say their identity is defined by the fact that they have a public health care system. We know very well that that is powerful and that we have something powerful when we talk about it. When we talk about something that affects individuals politically, it is easier to talk with them and define their identity.
I think that this practice is not unrelated to the fact that the NDP is trying to be more closely connected to the issue of health care; they may be trying to get more votes. If that is what they want to do, let them run for a provincial legislature, because here is not the right place. If they are truly concerned about health care, let them focus on the fundamental issue of health care funding. Funding is a disaster. In 2018-19, if I remember correctly, 44% of the Quebec government's budget went to health care. The federal government's share was barely 20%. That is what needs to be addressed. When money is transferred to the provinces, then that will yield results. Funding is indexed at 3% when we know that the cost of delivering health care is growing by 5%. Once again, this is not in Quebec's interest and is a bit of window dressing.
On housing, the motion calls for the government to “immediately fund a ‘For Indigenous, By Indigenous’ urban, rural and Northern housing strategy delivered by Indigenous housing providers.”
It is a proposal, but nowhere is it stated how it will be done. If an indigenous housing strategy is to be developed and funded, perhaps they should be consulted beforehand. Were consultations mentioned at all? We have not heard anything about consultations. Have they mentioned the issue before? Do they want to implement it? This is more of the rhetoric I was talking about earlier regarding some of the flashy measures. I do not think that a national initiative involving first nations can be proposed without talking to them first.
Another part refers to taxing the most wealthy. I tend to agree with that. Adding “one per cent” tends to be a flashy move. The “wealthiest one per cent” is a well-understood figure of speech. It is a good communication pitch. Maybe I am for it. We should look into this, but is there not some work to be done first on tax avoidance and tax havens?
With this measure, the NDP is hoping to bring in some $5 billion, when we know that, in Canada, tax avoidance and tax havens costs us collectively between $9 billion and $48 billion. If we want to revive the Canadian economy after the crisis, adjusting public finances and ensuring robust health care funding are perhaps things that we should look into.
Lastly, one thing in this motion bothered me greatly and clearly shows that the NDP is not thinking of Quebec. The motion mentions the recovery for all campaign, which is only in English. That clearly shows that they are not thinking of Quebec. I was even wondering if it was admissible here but, since I am not a petty person, I did not mention it.
To conclude, I am a great admirer of Albert Camus. The NDP will say that the Bloc Québécois is not a progressive party, which makes me think of the quarrel between Camus and Sartre in the 1950s. Camus responded beautifully in the book The Fall with the “judge-penitent” character. He is the one who sometimes confounds others with his inability to intervene.
In this case, the “judge-penitent” is the NDP, who will say that the Bloc Québécois is not a progressive party because it is not voting in favour of the motion.
Madam Speaker, I am sharing my time with the member for .
I am very honoured to join in the debate today in support of the NDP motion that calls on the Liberals to put in place a new 1% tax on wealth over $20 million and an excess profit tax on big corporations that have been profiteering from the pandemic, so that we can reinvest billions of dollars to support Canadians.
The pandemic has exposed deep inequities and massive failures in our economic system, leaving 1.8 million people out of work. The people hardest hit are low-income workers in the service industries, the agricultural workers and the migrant workers. Too often they are women, they are young and they are a visible minority. Even before the pandemic, more than half of Canadians were living from paycheque to paycheque, and 10 million workers had no workplace retirement plans.
The median retirement savings for households close to retirement without a pension is $3,000, and nearly four out of 10 Canadians have no retirement savings at all. Meanwhile, over 10,000 families have a net worth of over $30 million with their total wealth valued at over $1 trillion. Worse still, the income gap is continuing to grow exponentially.
Successive governments know the system is rigged to benefit the ultra-rich and they have done nothing about it. Budget 2019 continues with a blanket tax break for the richest corporations. Tax havens are still in place and will continue to take over $16 billion every year from much-needed programs for all Canadians. As workers struggle to get by, Canada's top 20 richest people profited $40 billion from the pandemic, yet despite earning record profits, some of these families who own the largest grocery chains in Canada decided to end their “hero pay” programs for their workers. It is as though they are blind to the second wave and that the lives of their workers are not continually at risk. This is just obscene.
The time has come to bring in strong measures to restore some balance to such inequities. In the last election, the NDP campaigned on a wealth tax. In this minority government, the NDP is calling on the Liberals to put in place a new 1% tax on wealth over $20 million and an excess profit tax on big corporations that have been profiteering from the pandemic. This is so that we can reinvest billions of dollars in a guaranteed livable basic income, a universal single-payer pharmacare and a national dental care program, and then truly treat adequate housing as a basic human right.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer reports that applying a 1% annual wealth tax to families with fortunes over $20 million would generate $5.6 billion in 2020-21. Over the course of 10 years, it would generate $70 billion in revenue. This wealth tax would apply to only 13,800 Canadians. There is no good reason why web giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook should not pay their fair share of taxes, as has been done by other countries.
Without a doubt, we should also crack down on tax havens and close tax loopholes. We need to pair these programs with tough enforcement against tax evasion and penalties for millionaires and big corporations who try to avoid paying their fair share.
By introducing a COVID-19 excess profit tax, we could at least double the tax rate on excess profits. We need to prepare these programs so that we can make sure that people do what is right by Canadians. It is time that we prioritize the needs of everyday Canadians over billionaires. By bringing in a guaranteed livable income, we can eradicate poverty and ensure the respect, dignity and security of all persons in Canada now and for future generations.
Nearly five million people in Canada, one out of every seven, live in poverty. In most urban centres, a family of four would need to have a total income in excess of $60,000 to escape poverty. In my own riding of Vancouver East, Downtown Eastside, is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country. The median income there is under $18,000, while across the country, the bottom 90% have an average income of $28,000. Vancouver has the highest rate of poverty at 20.4%, followed by Toronto at 20%.
Who are the faces of poverty? These are not just numbers. They represent real people. They are people living with disabilities. They are children. They are single moms. They are indigenous peoples, who are overrepresented among the homeless population in virtually all urban centres in Canada. They are racialized peoples. They are the elderly. They are veterans. They are our friends and our neighbours.
I am a parent, and I love my children to the moon and back. There is nothing that I would not do for them. However, in Canada, one in five children live in poverty. That is 1.3 million children. In the indigenous community, one in two children live in poverty. Indigenous peoples are 11 times more likely to be homeless. Just take that in for a minute.
What do these numbers mean? They mean that people cannot afford to fill their medical prescriptions. It means they cannot have food on the table. It means they cannot put a roof over their heads. It means that children are being ripped away from their families and put into the child welfare system. It means people are forced to break the law to try and survive. It means that their life expectancy is much shorter than those who do not live in poverty. The cost of poverty to our overall economy is staggering and to our humanity it is immeasurable.
It does not have to be this way. We can choose better. We can allow ourselves to realize a better Canada; a Canada where children are not going hungry; a Canada where seniors and people living with a disability live in dignity; a Canada where veterans are treated with the respect that they deserve; a Canada where people do not have to worry about how they will pay for their medicine; a Canada where adequate housing is not just a dream but a reality; a Canada without homeless encampments such as the one we have right now in my community.
A guaranteed basic livable income can help build a better Canada. A universal single-payer pharmacare program and a national dental care can help build a better Canada. A true national housing strategy, as outlined in recovery for all’s six-point plan, is a good start to end homelessness.
Homelessness is a policy choice fuelled by both the Liberals and Conservatives. A commitment of immediately building 3,000 new permanent affordable and supportive housing is a good start. We can limit the ability of large capital funds to purchase distressed rental housing assets. We can develop a “for indigenous, by indigenous” national housing centre and immediately construct 73,000 units of affordable housing, led by indigenous housing providers for urban, rural and northern communities.
Those are the kinds of initiatives that will create jobs and help the people who need it the most. A better Canada is possible. To quote greatest Canadian, Tommy Douglas, “Courage my friends, it is not too late to build a better world”.
Let us get on with it. I call on all members of this House to support this motion. This is the path for the future, this is a just recovery and this is telling the world that Canada will not leave people behind. This is saying that we stand with people in a tangible way and not just in words. This is a test of all of us, where we stand and the value that we bring to the House.
I hope all members will support this motion.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to join the debate on the motion by the member for on tax measures to support vulnerable Canadians.
We have been going through the most horrific health crisis in our country over the last eight or nine months. There has been the terrible, sad loss of over 10,000 Canadians, and we are still enduring the health consequences in the second wave in our most populous areas. We also know it has been a great burden to a lot of people whose vulnerability in our society has been greatly exposed by the loss of income, employment and opportunities during this pandemic because of the response to the necessary lockdowns.
More than a million more Canadians are unemployed today than were at the beginning of the pandemic. We are concerned about the consequences of the inequality that has been exposed by that. We knew about it. The New Democrats have been talking about it for many years, but now it is time for the rest of the country to realize that something must be done about the fundamental inequality in our country. The consequences for people are too great for us not to act now.
This is an opportunity to recognize that some of this inequality can be addressed by looking at where the significant money is and where it is not being shared equally. We do not want to see big corporations profiteer from a pandemic. We have seen responses to that in the past.
As the member for pointed out in his most excellent speech, an excess profit tax was imposed during the Second World War. It was believed by all parties that companies making an excess amount of money, profiteering during the war, should have that excess profit taxed. The regular profit was not taxed. That is what we are calling for in this situation. Big corporations that have received excess profits during the pandemic should pay an excess tax on that.
The second thing we talked about in our platform, which was costed, was a wealth tax on the super wealthy, not an income tax. A lot of people have mussed over that. I know the has in response to questions. This would be a tax on people's wealth in excess of $20 million, not on the first $20 million but a tax of 1% on anything in excess of that.
These huge fortunes keep growing more than 1% every year and are not properly taxed. Those individuals do not pay their fair contribution to the rest of society. We want to use that tax to deal with some of the serious inequalities we have regarding income, health care and housing. Those are the three main issues that would be dealt with in the proposal we have to expand income security programs to ensure all individuals residing in Canada have a guaranteed livable basic income.
We want to see health care expanded to include a national dental care program and a universal pharmacare program, which has been promised by the Liberals for more than 27 years. They still have not delivered on that. We want to see a meaningful implementation of the right to housing, with a significant plan known as “recovery for all", as well as a special indigenous, urban and rural and northern strategy delivered by indigenous people.
These items make up the essence of the motion. We are looking for support from the other parties in the House for that.
I am going to speak specifically to one aspect of our plan, which is the dental care plan. The , the member for Spadina—Fort York, talked about the NDP not having it in our platform or having costed it. He is wrong on both counts. It was in our platform last year and it was costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. It was a very doable and important measure that would make a significant change in the lives of millions of Canadians.
In fact, we also had it costed again this year in February and gave members of Parliament an opportunity to actually implement it by a change in the so-called middle-class tax cut, by taking the benefit of about $300 from the top of that of people earning over $90,000 and directing that money to provide a national dental care program, which would provide free dental care for families with an income of less than $70,000 per year.
That program is very important. Anyone who reflects on the situation of people in this country who do not have access to dental care knows that it is a major area of inequality in health care, in lifestyle and in getting a job. It comes with a stigma and affects their overall health. It is a shocking gap in the health care system.
We have a situation where if one has a bone broken, a fall or an illness, they go to the hospital or doctor and that is covered by medicare. However, if someone has an oral health problem, a toothache, a cavity or a lost tooth, it is not covered in most cases by our health care system.
We have people living all their lives, in many cases, from birth to death without adequate health care or with a patchwork of government programs here and there to help along the way. It is a significant inequality for rural and indigenous communities throughout the country in terms of lack of access to health care. It causes significant problems.
We are talking about a program that would cost $1.4 billion per year. It has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. It would benefit over six million Canadians. The cost is actually up from last year's analysis because of the increase in the number of people who do not have access to health and dental care programs because they are no longer working in places that have a program for employees.
It affects the most vulnerable Canadians. It affects part-time workers who do not have access to programs. It affects young people who age out of existing programs when they turn 21 or, for students, when they turn 25. It is a situation that cries out for action by government. This calls out for redress.
I spoke about the opportunity we gave to all hon. members on February 25 of this year on an opposition day motion to make a change in the tax regime that would give every single person in Canada without a dental care plan an opportunity to have a basic plan available to them. Every single Conservative in the House and every single Liberal in the House voted against that plan. Of course, they all benefit from the same plan I do, which is a plan for dental care as part of the regime of benefits for members of Parliament.
This plan would guarantee that all Canadians would have access to a dental care plan. It is something that is doable and that can be done for the kind of money that the Parliamentary Budget Officer talks about. It ought to be put in place in the interest of all Canadians and in the interests of equality.
Madam Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for .
The NDP motion to tax 1% on wealth over $20 million is so fundamentally wrong, I do not even know how to describe it. There is a basic misunderstanding of the concept of wealth with the NDP.
The New Democrats think $20 million in wealth is something that is cash hidden in the closet that they can tax every single year. They forget that this wealth is actually deployed in creating economic activity. It is deployed to create employment that, in turn, pays tax. It is deployed in enterprises that pay sales tax and corporate tax. The wealth the New Democrats are trying to tax is actually deployed in creating economic activity that continues to provide income so that all Canadians can be supported in terms of their needs.
I am new to politics. I entered politics only in 2014. I stood for election in 2015, and am a member of this august House. I came with three objectives.
The first objective was that we need affordable housing for all. That is not a left-leaning progressive objective. It is not a right-leaning conservative objective. It is an objective shared by almost all Canadians. We, as a society, should provide affordable housing for all. I am proud to say that we have invested quite large amounts into ensuring that we meet this objective.
My second objective was to ensure we have adequate retirement income for 11 million working Canadians who do not have workplace pension plans. There are 11 million working Canadians with no workplace pension plan and, when they retire, it is possible that most of them will retire into poverty. We need to take action and I am proud that we have actually taken action on that front. We have reformed the Canada pension plan. We still need to take much more action so that the seniors who retire have adequate income to have a decent living in their retirement.
The third objective was to ensure that the Canadian society and economy would continue to be robust and prosperous even in the new knowledge-based economy, so that prosperity could continue to be available to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this objective, we need successful entrepreneurs to invest in the knowledge-based economy. Any government can only facilitate. We can pass legislation and we can promote policies to promote the knowledge-based economy, but at the end of the day the knowledge-based economy can only come from entrepreneurs who take risks and invest in new capital enterprises in the knowledge-based economy. The new economy we are talking of means the areas of artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, genomics and the new 5G technologies. In all of these areas, the government cannot create employment on its own, so we need successful entrepreneurs to do that and we need them to invest their wealth, which the NDP proposes to tax. We need that investment.
I am a person who would never be affected by this motion, never in my life. Forget $20 million, Madam Speaker. I do not think I will go into six or seven digits in wealth. However, I happen to know the people whom the NDP is targeting with this wealth tax.
Let me give an example of a couple who, a long time back, graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa and set up their own businesses. The first business failed. The second business failed, as did the third business. At the time they were investing, with no money in their pockets, whatever little amount they could get. When they were investing and developing the businesses, they lived by eating tomato sandwiches. They worked hard, month after month, year after year. For 15, 20 and then 25 years they worked, creating a company. Finally, they were able to sell it to a big multinational company for about $50 million, which the NDP wants to tax.
What did the couple do with the $50 million they gained? They took a risk and reinvested in new technologies, creating high-paying jobs. They knew very well the money they were investing in these new capital enterprises might be lost entirely. They took that risk. They deployed the wealth back into a technology business creating high-paying jobs, which provided income tax for us to provide support to all Canadians. They created an enterprise that paid corporate tax. They created an enterprise that paid sales tax. They rented premises that paid sales tax on the rent they paid. They reinvested. If they had lost money on that investment, nobody would have compensated them.
The very idea that we have to tax this wealth is creating a disincentive for entrepreneurs to reinvest. It is very wrong.
Let me give another example of a great Canadian: a South African national who is also a Canadian citizen and now a U.S. citizen. Elon Musk has singlehandedly done more to fight climate change than all of us sitting here. He is a great entrepreneur who invested his wealth into electric vehicles through battery technology with the goal of having a sustainable world and fighting climate change, and actually delivering it in the process of making wealth.
This person, 10 years ago, was weeks away from bankruptcy. He did not have money to pay rent. The company he founded was almost on the doorstep of closure. However, he persevered. He continued to work hard. Today he has created wealth, not only for himself but for his tens of thousands of employees across the world. That is the kind of wealth the NDP is proposing to tax.
It is easy for us to sit here and say, let the wealthy pay tax and let us spend it on things we feel are noble. Under the noble objectives, I think we are losing our focus.
Our focus should be on things that can create economic activity, economic development and employment, and can increase the income with which people pay personal income tax. We can focus on economic development that pays more sales tax, and we can focus on economic development that pays more corporate tax, instead of focusing on taxing the wealthy.
I know time is limited. I would like to answer any questions.
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to stand and speak in the House, especially when the motion in front of us involves housing, in particular the proposal to try to get us to do the work we need to do, which is actually work the Liberal government is already engaged in doing.
I referenced my father in an earlier comment. I will reference my mother now, who once told me that if people want to make a point, they vote NDP; if people want to make a difference, they vote Liberal; and if people want to make a mistake, they vote Conservative. I raise that issue because, while the theory behind what the NDP is proposing is good as it reflects our throne speech, our campaign commitments and the record of this Liberal government, it is the practicality of it that I do not understand.
I asked members a question earlier. During a campaign debate with my opponent, I said that they had referenced one tax seven different ways, and it was all spent on pharmacare, but it also promised to deal with different housing programs. Dental care was added into the program, and other things, but the same dollar kept getting spent over and over again, even though it was only one dollar. The Conservatives like to say there is only one taxpayer, but I think the NDP needs to be reminded that its tax increase is only one tax increase. It has layered several different programs on top of this, claiming that there are savings that will flow from these investments. Those savings, I would remind the NDP, are downstream. There are upfront costs to all of the NDP's proposals, which the Parliamentary Budget Office identified. There are also unintended risks to what the New Democrats are proposing, and if there is no plan to put their theory into place, then they are just words.
The NDP is great on slogans. All of these slogans are good. All of these ideas have value, but what is not there is the practical plan to achieve them, and without a practical plan to achieve them, they are just empty words. I will give the House a couple of examples. Finally the NDP has talked about the issue of urban, rural and northern housing. Finally the New Democrats are beginning to address one of the most critical housing issues in the country, and they say we have done nothing to address it.
That is just wrong. We identified it in the national housing strategy as the chapter that we are currently working on, and we are about to deliver on that. The throne speech makes that commitment, and the work is already under way, but in the interim we created an indigenous stream and increased funding in the indigenous stream in reaching home. We made all of the programs eligible to northern, rural and urban communities for indigenous-led housing providers. Additionally, we put carve-outs into the northern housing strategy, specifically for northern housing accomplishments, because we knew that previous programs had a gap there. On top of all of that, we also made sure that our investments into things like the rapid housing initiative are focused on, and eligible to, indigenous housing providers.
In the interim we have actually invested in those programs while we pull together and work with urban indigenous, rural indigenous and northern indigenous leadership to make sure we set up a by- and for-indigenous housing program. That work is under way. Those investments are coming. When I ask the member for to give me a dollar amount, a housing target or strategy, or to say who she is working with, and we have asked these questions repeatedly, the NDP just says, “Do it now and do more.”
I appreciate doing more. It is a great political slogan. I have no problem with trying to do more, working to accomplish more and actually delivering more, which this government has done. However, just jumping up and down and saying, “Do more!” is not governing. It is a chant in a protest, and as my mother said, if one wants to protest, one has a party. If one wants to get things done, one has a government.
On the issue of recovery for all, I invite the members of the NDP to look at that campaign and see which member of Parliament appears in the campaign. They should check the video for it. They can tell me whether they see my face there, or their leader's face there. They should check the video, because that campaign is being put forth by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness: an organization we work with day in and day out to get better strategies in place to support homeless individuals. This is not just during COVID. We have been doing this since we first got elected.
The rapid housing initiative, the reprofiling of reaching home and the advancement of the legislation to achieve the right to housing were all done with the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. If members read all six points of the recovery for all program, they will see our government has already started to respond to those six calls to action with investments such as the billion-dollar rapid housing initiative, and the almost half-billion dollars invested into reaching home to protect people during COVID and to build a stronger network of organizations to fight homelessness across the country.
When members talk about the urban, rural and northern housing strategy, they can talk to the member for . We have been working very closely together, not only to get a study done in Parliament, but also simultaneously with urban indigenous housing providers, and their allies in rural and northern communities, to formulate what the receiving side of that program would look like and how we would work with housing providers across the country to achieve what we need to. All of this is being worked on.
When it comes to the right to housing, I recall a story I heard from my sister in Victoria. The NDP candidate came to her house, knocked on the door and said the government had done nothing about the right to housing. They laid into the national housing strategy as if it did not exist and said there had not been a penny invested in Victoria. This simply is not true.
Mayor Helps and I have met dozens of times, formally and informally, to talk about Victoria's progress in getting to functional zero. Without COVID, we are pretty sure we would have gotten there this year. Why? It is because we steered a $3 million block-funding initiative right into the greater Victoria area, with the provincial government and the regional housing authority. When they ran into a wall, we topped it up by $10 million.
I have opened programs and buildings in Victoria, yet the candidate went to my sister's house, stood on her porch and said the government had not even been there. My sister's response was, “Every time he comes to Victoria he stays with me. I know he comes to Victoria to make those announcements.”
Can we do more? Absolutely. We are working hard on that. Are we delivering more dollars in real time in a real way? Of course we are.
I invite the NDP to stop screaming “more” and start talking about “how”, because that is the way results will end up landing in people's lives. It is not by protesting in front of Parliament Hill. It is by working on Parliament Hill. It is not by talking about more money for housing. It is by building, subsidizing and repairing more housing.
I remind the that last term he said repairing housing is not part of a national housing strategy. What a ridiculous claim to make. The next week I was in Burnaby giving money to a co-op to fix housing so that people did not have to move out. Good housing systems will repair housing, subsidize housing and build housing. That is how we build a national housing strategy. We do not just chant “do more”; we actually get more done.
I have no problem supporting the concept of the motion before us. In our throne speech, we talked about exploring ways to make the tax system more fair by looking at the way wealthy Canadians may be able to pay more of their fair share, because the system has changed over time and is no longer as fair as it could be. On page 19 and 20, we said we would end chronic homelessness, that there would be a northern and indigenous housing strategy and that we were going to invest in social and co-op housing. Those programs are currently being constructed and will be in front of the House in short order.
As for the right to housing, we are halfway through the appointments process. We have moved the legislation through the House and we are moments away from signing off on the advisory council. The housing advocate will be constructed with the housing advisory panel, which will include people with lived experience. All of these things are part of what the UN rapporteur for housing, who helped us draft the legislation, told us we needed for achieving on those files.
I am not going to stand here and be told by the NDP to get back to work when I am doing the work. I will tell the NDP to stop chanting “more” and start showing us how, because the lack of practical application of their ideas is why they are in fourth place. It is why they fail to take government. The chants, protests and slogans remind me of somebody: the Premier of Ontario. They can govern with slogans if they want, but they do not deliver results. We have to be practical, we have to be real, we have to achieve concrete budgetary items and then we have to work with partners to deliver.
As for housing, things are getting better and better. Is there more work to do? Yes. Do I push our government to do better? Absolutely. Do my constituents demand it of me? They do, every day I am in the riding.
I cannot get past this proclivity to chant slogans and chant “more”. I see this motion as a chance for the NDP to say there are five things the government has said it is going to deliver and then demand the government does this now. Then, when it does, they can try to take credit.
The number of times NDP members referenced Tommy Douglas is quite interesting, and I will tell members something about Tommy Douglas that I really respect. He built the health care system before he came to Ottawa and then scaled it across the country. He did not land in Ottawa with an idea and just screamed, “Do it, do it, do it.” He got it done first and then shared it with the rest of the Canada.
That is the practicality I look for in the NDP, but I never see it in that party anymore. It disappoints me, and it is why I ran for the Liberals. It is why I beat the NDP in my riding. It is why we will continue to do the good work we are doing. We are getting it done, not just talking about it.
Madam Speaker, yes, I will be splitting my time. I thank my hon. colleague.
I will continue speaking about how we choose to spend money. The International Monetary Fund reported that Canada subsidized the fossil fuel industry to the tune of almost $60 billion in 2015, which is approximately $1,650 per Canadian. I have heard a lot of rhetoric from my Liberal and Conservative colleagues on trying to save money for Canadians. I think many Canadians would agree with me. They would rather see that $1,650 invested in a guaranteed livable basic income, a dental care program, an aggressive housing strategy, an indigenous-led housing strategy or a pharmacare program. It is unacceptable.
In fact, we know keeping women poorer keeps them in violence. It is not surprising that call to justice 4.5 of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls for a guaranteed basic income for all Canadians and indigenous peoples as a way to protect women from violence. Women have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. We have seen an increase in the rate of domestic violence go up 400% in some areas.
It is also not acceptable that the ultrawealthy in this country have made $37 billion in profits since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis while families and individuals across the country have been forced deeper into poverty. There are more people than ever who are experiencing homelessness for the first time, yet we hear Conservatives and Liberals aggressively trying to protect their wealthy friends and their interests in big corporations.
We need to legislate a long-term and permanent plan that prioritizes people over corporations. It is time the ultrawealthy pay their fair share and that everybody living in Canada has access to housing, health care and a guaranteed livable basic income. We are obliged as members of Parliament to ensure everybody is afforded human rights and dignity. That includes the right to a house, the right to safety and the right to security, yet I hear Liberals and Conservatives aggressively fight against that.
A guaranteed livable basic income is not a new concept. We actually have guaranteed income programs in Canada. The OAS is an example of a guaranteed income security program. The CCB is another example. However, these are not livable and they need to be extended. People are being left behind. Disabled persons, students, veterans and seniors living in poverty are being left behind, to name a few. Some people are living with severe mental health and trauma issues. We know programs have been successful as a lot of research has been done.
In 1970, the Dauphin Mincome study was put forward by an NDP government. It was one of the most ambitious social science experiments ever in Canada. What it found was a decrease in hospitalizations and savings in health care. If we want to save taxes, we need improvements in mental health.
If we want to save taxes, we need to look after people and increase the number of children completing high school. We know there is a direct correlation between high school completion rates and levels of income. If we want to save taxes, we need to look after people. Participants in the Ontario basic income pilot project were happier, healthier and even continued working.
On the notion that when we look after people they will not work, I have to go with the research, which shows that is a totally false and erroneous statement. Looking after people is a cost-saving, tax-saving measure, and it is wildly popular. It has cross-party support. I put up a petition that garnered over 43,000 signatures. As well, Angus Reid noted this summer that the majority of Canadians, 59%, supports a guaranteed livable basic income and 60% of Albertans support a guaranteed income.
We need to look after the people who have been most impacted. Through research, we know that has been women, disabled persons, Black people, indigenous people and people of colour. We must, and we are obliged to, uphold our oath of office, which means upholding our charter and the Canadian Constitution, ensuring that all people can live with human rights and dignity.